10. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Romance, Teen Books

Catch a Falling Star by Kim Culbertson, read by Angie, on 05/09/2014

Carter Moon loves her life in small town Little, CA. She loves working at her family’s cafe and stargazing at night with her best friends Alien Drake and Chloe. Then Hollywood comes to Little and brings Adam Jakes, teen heart-throb extraordinaire. Adam is a child star, turned teen heart-throb, turned car-crashing, drug rehab screwup. This movie is supposed to be his redemption film. As part of his redemption, Parker his manager sets up a small town romance with Carter. Carter is to play Parker’s new girlfriend and get a nice check to help her family. The plan goes awry when Carter starts developing real feelings for Adam and has a hard time just playing a part. 

So usually something like this is not to my tastes. I like a little more reality in my realistic fiction. However, I was a bit enchanted by this story. It read like a Disney movie (which I secretly enjoy!). I liked this story of two kids from completely different worlds. I laughed at the antics of Chloe and Alien Drake. The only part I thought was a little bit forced was the story of Carter’s gambling-addicted brother. I know it was a set up for why Carter wanted the money, but it still seemed a bit forced. This is a sweet romantic story that I am betting teen girls will enjoy. 

I received a copy from Netgalley.

08. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Science Fiction, Teen Books

Eve & Adam by Michael Grant, Katherine Applegate , read by Angie, on 05/08/2014

Eve Spiker is the daughter of biotech giant Terra Spiker. When she is in an accident and loses her leg she is immediately whisked off to Spiker Biotech to recuperate. Miraculously the leg is healed in a matter of days with no pain and no scars. Eve is introduced to Spiker lackey Solo who explains that she has been genetically modified by her mother with super healing. Solo lives at Spiker ever since his parents (Spiker scientists) were killed in an accident and he has hated Terra Spiker for years. He thinks she is evil and wants to take her down. Only his new love for Eve stops him short. While recovering Eve is tasked with creating her perfect boy and testing out some new genetic software for Spiker. Eve creates Adam, who is beautiful and intelligent and perfect in almost every way. 

I thought I was really going to like this book; I have really enjoyed other books by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate in the past. However, this one just fell short of my expectations. I think the premise is intriguing. I like the fact that it is set in present day and deals with genetics and biomedical ethics and what it means to be human. However, all of those ideas fell by the wayside when confronted with the one-dimensional characters and the over-used plot ideas. 

Eve and Solo and eventually Adam narrate the book and unfortunately there is little to distinguish them personality wise. They all seem like caricatures of typical teen novel characters. Eve is brainy and innocent and naive and never really questions anything. She loses her leg and has her arm crushed but doesn’t question the fact that there is no pain. She also doesn’t really react when told she is genetically modified. Solo claims to hate Terra Spiker and believes her to be evil, but never really gives us any reasons for this hate. He comes of as someone overly stuck on their own importance. Adam is supposed to be the perfect creation and he must be because he can literally stop traffic. In fact he is so beautiful everyone who sees him stares and wants him no matter the sex or age. Really??? Every time this was described I cringed with incredulity; it just seemed so impossible and such a stupid plot idea. Then we have Aislen, Eve’s best friend, she is so overly sexualize that she is barely a person. And her story about a drug-dealing loser boyfriend really has no place in the story at all. The ending is fairly ridiculous with the Spiker scientists becoming evil henchmen all the sudden. And don’t even get me started on the stupid love triangle.

I can say that this story moved at a fast-pace and was entertaining in spots. However, I don’t think I would recommend it. 

07. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Kristy, Poetry, Teen Books

I Just Hope It's Lethal: Poems of Sadness, Madness, and Joy by Liz Rosenberg (Editor), Deena November (Editor), read by Kristy, on 04/05/2014

The teenage years are a time filled with sadness, madness, joy, and all the messy stuff in between. Sometimes it feels that every day brings a new struggle, a new concern, a new reason to stay in bed with the shades drawn. But between moments of despair and confusion often come times of great clarity and insight, when you might think, like the poet Rumi, “Whoever’s calm and sensible is insane!” It is moments like these that have inspired the touching, honest, and gripping poems found in I Just Hope It’s Lethal: Poems of Sadness, Madness, and Joy. After all, what’s normal anyway? 

This collection includes poems by Charles Bukowski, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, T. S. Eliot, Edgar Allen Poe, W. B. Yeats, Dorothy Parker, Jane Kenyon, and many more, including teenage writers and up-and-coming poets.

07. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Kristy, Teen Books

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, read by Kristy, on 04/10/2014

All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he’s the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl…

Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn’t want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god…

Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he’s ruining his cousin Danny’s life. Danny’s a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse…

These three apparently unrelated tales come together with an unexpected twist, in a modern fable that is hilarious, poignant and action-packed. American Born Chinese is an amazing rise, all the way up to the astonishing climax–and confirms what a growing number of readers already know: Gene Yang is a major talent.

07. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Kristy, Teen Books

Boxers by Gene Luen Yang, read by Kristy, on 04/15/2014

China, 1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants.

Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers–commoners trained in kung fu–who fight to free China from “foreign devils.”

Against all odds, this grass-roots rebellion is violently successful. But nothing is simple. Little Bao is fighting for the glory of China, but at what cost? So many are dying, including thousands of “secondary devils”–Chinese citizens who have converted to Christianity.

07. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Kristy, Teen Books

Saints by Gene Luen Yang, read by Kristy, on 04/20/2014

China, 1898. An unwanted and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn’t even given a proper name by her family when she’s born. She finds friendship–and a name, Vibiana–in the most unlikely of places: Christianity. 

But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is in full swing, and bands of young men roam the countryside, murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie…and whether she is willing to die for her faith.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Teen Books

Unforgotten by Tohby Riddle, read by Angie, on 05/05/2014

Unforgotten is an illustrated poem. It shows angels looking over us until one of them falls to earth. The angel becomes frozen until someone notices it and brings it back to life. I found the illustrations really interesting as all the people are either photographs or works of art. The angels are simple black and white line drawings that really stand out against the colorful backgrounds. This is a different kind of book, but one that was worth the read.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Madeline, Romance, Teen Books

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, read by Madeline, on 04/20/2014

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.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Lisa, Romance, Teen Books

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, read by Lisa, on 04/05/2014

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.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Claudia, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

The Chosen by Chaim Potok, read by Claudia, on 04/01/2014

It is the now-classic story of two fathers and two sons and the pressures on all of them to pursue the religion they share in the way that is best suited to each. And as the boys grow into young men, they discover in the other a lost spiritual brother, and a link to an unexplored world that neither had ever considered before. In effect, they exchange places, and find the peace that neither will ever retreat from again….

Potok’s first novel, The Chosen, was published in 1967, and he quickly won acclaim for this best-selling book about tensions within the Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish communities. This and later books have been both critically and popularly successful. Many of them explore the meaning of Judaism in the modern era, focusing on the conflict between traditional teachings and the pressures of modern life. The Chosen was nominated for a National Book Award in 1967 and made into a successful film in 1982. Its sequel, The Promise (1969) was the winner of an Athenaeum Award.

06. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Fiction, Leslie, Paranormal, Teen Books

The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead, read by Leslie, on 04/05/2014

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After making a life-changing decision, Sydney Sage, an Alchemist who serves to bridge the worlds of humans and vampires, must tread a careful path as she harnesses her profound magical ability to undermine the way of life she was raised to defend.

I enjoy this series, vampires and all.  Poor Sydney, now that she has overcome her aversion to vampires, the good ones, that is, she can’t reveal her true love for fear that her family will find out and re-educate her.  Even vampires suffer from teen angst, it seems.  Can’t we all just learn to get along?  Sydney certainly hopes so!

01. May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, Noelle, Teen Books

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, read by Noelle, on 04/16/2014

I was a huge fan of Eleanor and Park, so I decided to give this one a whirl.   I liked the main story line, but just couldn’t really get into the “book within the book” sideline fan fiction that the main character was writing.  I eventually just skipped over those parts.  Overall, though, not bad.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life-and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? Open her heart to someone?Or will she just go on living inside somebody else’s fiction?

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Dystopia, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Teen Books

Sekret by Lindsay Smith, read by Courtney, on 04/25/2014

Yulia’s parents used to be nomenklatura, members of the Soviet elite. Now, Yulia lives with her mother and brother, her father’s whereabouts unknown. They’ve been on the run, eluding the KGB, for several years. Then, on a day much like any other, Yulia uses her ability to read minds in order to get desperately needed supplies on the black market. Yulia senses something wrong and, before she can do anything about it, she is taken into custody by KGB operatives. It turns out that they had been specifically tracking Yulia for some time and not because of her parent’s former transgressions, but rather due to her psychic abilities. Yulia is forced to join a top-secret group of operatives with powers similar to hers. There, Yulia learns to block her own thoughts from being read and how to hone her own skills for the purposes of espionage. Yulia knows they have her mother and brother and she has been promised time with them as a reward for her cooperation. As if that weren’t incentive enough, the man in charge of their group, Rostov, is known as a “scrubber” and is able to “scrub” the thoughts right out of someone’s brain, only to be replaced with thoughts of his choosing. Yulia and her comrades manage to expose a traitor with connections to the CIA, only to discover that the traitor has had memories erased by another scrubber. This other scrubber appears to have even more power than Rostov. He’s also looking for Yulia. If this scrubber, who works for the enemy, is more powerful than the USSR’s scrubber, then Yulia’s not safe anywhere.
I found Secret to be both unique and fascinating. I’ve read quite a few books involving mind reading and other psychic powers, but this is by far the most realistic use of such powers that I’ve come across. The Soviet backdrop (a real dystopia!) is detailed and well-researched. Much of the plot centers around real events from the Cold War era (the space race, Cuban Missile Crisis). Further, there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the KGB was doing research on physic abilities during this era(mainly in response to the CIA’s MK-ULTRA program), which makes this a fantastic merging of the paranormal and the historical. A cliff-hanger ending sets this up for a sequel.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Teen Books

Audacious by Gabrielle Prendergast, read by Courtney, on 04/20/2014

Raphaelle and her family have just moved to a new home, which means a new school as well. This time around, Raphaelle decides she isn’t going to be the trouble maker she was at all of her previous schools. This time around, she is going to be Ella and she is going to be as normal as can be. She’s avoiding the Catholic schools this time around though her perfect and popular younger sister is content to stick with the parochial trend. Her father is now teaching at a University, which keeps him busy. Her mother, who had to give up her job for the move, struggles to find a part-time job to keep her mind occupied. As it turns out, Raphaelle/Ella doesn’t find things much easier in a public school setting, but she does enjoy her art classes. It is during these classes that she meets a boy, Samir and starts falling for him. Samir falls for her as well, but matters are complicated by Samir’s family being strict Muslims, who are none too fond of the idea of their son dating a Catholic (or lapsed-Catholic) girl. Raphaelle gets fed up with the limitations of the labels people are given and creates an extremely provocative work of art for the school art show. This particular piece of art is shocking enough to have a part of it taken down. Raphaelle gets suspended and her teacher may be fired. Things are so bad, Raphaelle has to get lawyer. And then they get worse.
While the main focus point of this story is the censorship issue, it’s bolstered by a host of other issues. Raphaelle’s mother and sister each have their own serious issues, all of which go almost completely ignored by their father. Her relationship, already complicated by religious issues, is strained over and over again by a variety of circumstances and invokes themes of faith, prejudice, and intersectionality. Other characters, like artsy jock David, the art teacher’s disabled daughter, and others complicate and round out an already interesting story. It’s a novel in verse, so it moves extremely fast. Most readers will finish this one in an afternoon. The sequel, Capricious, is out now.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Fairy Tales and Folklore, Teen Books

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige, read by Courtney, on 04/18/2014

Poor Amy Gumm. She lives with her mom in a dusty old trailer park somewhere in rural Kansas. Her mom, when not too depressed to leave the house, is always out drinking. At school, things aren’t much better. Amy’s pregnant arch-enemy, Madison, likes to start fights and blame “Salvation Amy” for them. On the day that Amy is sent home from school for fighting with Madison, a storm is brewing. The storm turns into a tornado and whisks Amy, her trailer and her mother’s pet rat, Star, off to another world – Oz, to be specific. The first thing Amy notices when she crash-lands is that Oz looks nothing like it’s supposed to. As Amy begins to meet the inhabitants of Oz, she quickly finds out that her more famous Kansas predecessor, Dorothy, is the ruler of Oz. Her loyal companions are still loyal, but corrupted by greed and power. Dorothy has become something of a dictator dressed in gingham. The use of magic has been forbidden by all save Dorothy and her counterparts. The rest of Oz is suffering dearly. Amy is quickly apprehended by and then saved from Dorothy by a Wicked witch, Mombi, who represents the resistance. Amy has no choice but to join the resistance and they have only one main goal: to kill Dorothy.
This is a fun take on the Wizard of Oz story. Amy makes a good foil to Dorothy’s false cheeriness. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen Dorothy portrayed as a bad guy (the Fables comic series by Bill Willingham comes to mind), but she and her Oz counterparts are genuinely evil. I’m still a bit unclear as to how she made such a complete 180 from her original goody-two-shoes persona. Ostensibly, it’s the possession of magic that’s made her turn so evil, but for all I know, there might be more exposition coming in the subsequent novels. Either way, Dorothy and her entire gang make for some really creepy baddies. There’s plenty of action from beginning to end, but the pacing lags through the second half of the book. Some murky potentially-romantic entanglements drag the plot down further. It’s not nearly as much fun (nor as rooted in the original story) as Gregory Maguire’s work, but it will certainly still find a readership among readers who enjoy both a spunky female protagonist and retellings of classic stories.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Teen Books · Tags:

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton, read by Courtney, on 04/13/2014

When Ava Lavender was born, there were those who thought her to be an angel. Doctors were baffled; there’s simply no explanation for a girl to be born with wings. Ava’s mother, however, is used to strangeness in her life. To keep Ava and her twin brother, Henry, out of the public eye, Viviane, their mother, sequesters them in their house on Pinnacle Lane. As Ava begins to grow into a woman, she begins to stray from the house, seeking the company of other teenagers and possible explanations for her strangeness.
Ava’s story doesn’t really begin with her at all. It begins several generations earlier, in a small French town where Ava’s great-grandfather makes a decision to move his family to New York. This family includes Ava’s grandmother, Emilienne and her three siblings. All of the children are strange in their own way and each, save Emilienne, dies after falling in love with the wrong people. Emilienne decides to bury her heart and marries a baker. They move across the country to Seattle and into the house on Pinnacle Hill. It is here that Ava’s mother, Viviane, is born. It is only a matter of time before love plays its cruel tricks on her as well.
This book is absolutely gorgeous. Magic realism is rare in YA lit and this is magic realism at its finest (for any age group). To even attempt to create a synopsis of the story is to leave out so much of the myriad elements that make this book so wonderful. The language is evocative. The characters are memorable. The story is haunting. Love and its aftermath are central themes in Ava Lavender’s story, but there’s so much more to it than that. This is a novel that demands to be reread. As painful as it is at times, I will still unhesitatingly welcome the strange and beautiful world that Ava inhabits.
(nb: if this doesn’t wind up on either the Printz and/or Morris Award/Honor lists, I will cry. Or just lose my faith in ALA awards committees altogether.)

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Historical Fiction, Teen Books

The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman, read by Courtney, on 04/08/2014

The year is 1960 and 13-year-old Sophie is being forced to live with her Aunt and Grandmother in rural Louisiana for the summer. Sophie, who usually lives in New Orleans with her single mother, is not happy even though it means she won’t have to worry about her mother’s criticism all summer long. Sophie’s aunt lives on what is left of the Fairchild family’s once-grand sugar cane plantation. There’s not much to do on the plantation, so Sophie spends her time outdoors exploring. On one of her excursions, she encounters a strange creature that grants her wish for adventure, family and friends. Sophie subsequently finds herself transported back in time to 1860. The plantation in 1860 is vastly different from the dusty, sleepy farm that Sophie had previously explored. This is the plantation’s hay-day; all the structures are new and solid, the atmosphere thrums with life. The Fairchilds have nearly 200 slaves working their crops and, when Sophie makes her first appearance, she is mistaken for a light-skinned slave. Realizing that attempting to tell her slave-owning ancestors that she’s traveled from the future would probably not make her transition any easier, Sophie begins to assume the identity of a slave.
Sophie’s journey is particularly fascinating because she originates from a pre-Civil-Rights-Movement South. Racism is still a part of everyday life even if slavery is a thing of the past. Sophie not only has to learn to fit in where she is uncomfortable, she experiences the bigotry first-hand. Sophie quickly discovers that the past is far more complicated than she had ever dreamed.
This book could have been a rip-off of other “modern-girl-travels-to-her-ancestors-past” books like Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arithmetic or Octavia Butler’s Kindred, but it most certainly is not. For one, Sophie is white, which takes her even farther out of her comfort zone. For another, Sherman weaves in themes from African mythology to paint a sophisticated portrait of a subjugated people. Linguistically, Sherman’s approach feels very authentic and she never shies away from the discomfiting details that flesh out daily life on the plantation. Sherman does, however, keep things appropriate for a younger audience by writing around some of the more violent aspects of antebellum life. It is still a sophisticated novel and will require a measure of dedication from readers, particularly younger ones. This book won’t have broad appeal, but it’s definitely worth a read.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Paranormal, Teen Books

The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost, read by Courtney, on 04/05/2014

Will West has been flying under the proverbial radar at his parent’s insistence for as long as he can remember. He keeps his grades mediocre and makes sure to hold back at his cross-country meets. His life is under control until one day, when he realizes he’s being followed by men in unmarked black vehicles. His instincts tell him that things aren’t right and he needs to get out of town. When an elite prep school called the Center for Integrated Learning contacts him with an offer of admittance due to an extraordinarily high standardized test score, Will figures he might as well go. What he discovers is that the remote Wisconsin boarding school is home to the country’s best and brightest. Will no longer needs to hold back; he can tap into his true potential. He finds quickly that he possesses even more impressive abilities than he ever thought possible. He quickly establishes friendships with his hall-mates and makes himself the enemy of the school bullies. As Will begins to explore both the school and his own abilities, he realizes that there is nothing random about the school finding him and that the connections he is discovering date all the way back to the middle ages.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about this book. I mean, I had just read another book involving a mysterious and elite boarding school, so it’s entirely possible I was just getting bored and/or confused with plotlines. I had a lot of problems with the basic premise. How can a kid who is so clearly a genius never question his parents’ instructions to not stand out? It seems to me that, since most parents typically push their children to do their best, it would be somewhat suspicious for the parents of an incredibly smart and talented kid to tell their child to hide all of it. Wouldn’t a genius, especially a teenaged one, have a few questions for Mom and Pop? I also really wished that I had some idea of what the titular prophecy actually referred to. I’ve been informed that much more will be made clear in the second book, but considering that Frost had 500+ pages to set everything up, one might think it’s not too much to ask to have at least a little more information. Instead, it winds up feeling like 500 pages of exposition, which is a bit tiring on many levels. On the upside, the pacing was quick and a few of the characters were entertaining.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Teen Books

Night School by C.J. Daugherty, read by Courtney, on 04/03/2014

 After getting arrested for the third time in one year, Allie has been sent to a remote boarding school for their summer session. She expects it to be something like a prison for troubled kids, so she’s extremely surprised to find out that the vast majority of the students both wealthy and academically talented. Allie knows she doesn’t fit in, but she makes the best of it. While she makes several friends quickly, she also makes some enemies by engaging in flirtation with a handsome student named Sylvain (super-wealthy and French) and by getting attention from badboy Carter West (mysterious, moody and on scholarship). Over time, Allie genuinely begins to enjoy being at Cimmeria Academy. She’s working harder on schoolwork than ever before and is starting to feel like being sent to Cimmeria was actually a good thing. There are just a few things that she can’t quite figure out. First, there’s the issue of the noises Allie hears on the roof every night. Second, how in the world did she manage to get into such an elite school? It’s clearly not a place where kids are typically sent for disciplinary problems. The students of Cimmeria tend to go on to Ivy League schools and many of the students are legacies, meaning their parents and grandparents attended Cimmeria as well. Allie doesn’t fit into any of those categories and isn’t sure why or how she wound up at such a fancy boarding school. Oh, and why had she never even heard of the school until being sent there?
When the school dance is disrupted by both a fire and a murder, Allie decides it’s time to start getting some answers.
It’s easy to go into this book expecting a paranormal story, but there are minimal, if any, paranormal elements in the story. Readers will be wondering what is going on up until the very end and even then, there will be questions. This is the first in a series, which means that that much of the plot is meant to be unresolved. Unfortunately, a good deal of time is spent on the love-triangle-angle, which has become such a cliche in YA literature at this point that I can barely tolerate it when I come into contact with it. Even worse, there’s a scene of near-rape that Allie is able to simply ignore. She is uncomfortable in her aggressor’s presence, but inexplicably fails to do anything else about it (she doesn’t tell anyone in authority; doesn’t seek help, medical or psychological; barely mentions it unless the perpetrator is in the same scene…). It just really bothered me that this type of violence was completely glossed over. Still, it was an interesting enough book, but probably not one I’ll be recommending anytime soon.

30. April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Dystopia, Fiction, Jane, Teen Books

Feedback by Robison Wells, read by Jane, on 04/18/2014

Benson Fisher escaped from Maxfield Academy’s deadly rules and brutal gangs.

Or so he thought.

But now Benson is trapped in a different kind of prison: a town filled with hauntingly familiar faces. People from Maxfield he saw die. Friends he was afraid he had killed.

They are all pawns in the school’s twisted experiment, held captive and controlled by an unseen force. As he searches for answers, Benson discovers that Maxfield Academy’s plans are more sinister than anything he imagined—and they may be impossible to stop.