Category: Young Adult Books: new and old


Ender's Game (Ender Wiggin Series #1)Although this book was published almost 25 years ago, it is a fine time to pick it up before the release of the theatrical version in 2013.

Children’s Literature

This twenty-five-year-old science fiction classic has been repackaged for younger readers. Unlike many hard-core science fiction titles, this book is particularly appropriate for a younger audience, for its protagonist, Ender Wiggin, is just six years old at the novel’s beginning and still a pre-teen at its end. Ender’s parents have received a special dispensation to have a third child in spite of strict population control laws. His brilliant older siblings, Peter and Valentine, have each showed great promise, but each falls just short of having “the right stuff.” The International Fleet (I.F.) believes that Ender may be the commander they need to lead great armies against invasion by alien “buggers.” When Ender does exhibit the desired combination of compassion and cruelty, the I.F. takes him to the distant Battle School, where brilliant children are trained in military strategy and tactics. The centerpiece of their education is a simulated battle game at which Ender quickly excels, eventually becoming the youngest commander in history. Life at Battle School, especially these battle games, is richly described. Ender is portrayed as just a pawn in the larger game being played by the I.F., and readers will alternately sympathize with his exploitation and cheer when he is able to make friends in spite of the tremendous forces working to isolate and dehumanize him. The political and philosophical material at the novel’s end may get too heavy for some readers, but for the most part, this novel will deservedly reach a new generation through this new edition. —Norah Piehl

 

Ready Player OneLibrary Journal

Reportedly bought for something like $500,000 and already slated for filming, this novel from Fanboys screenwriter Cline features a geeky kid named Wade Watts who gets caught up in a worldwide virtual utopia called Oasis. There he finds himself on a virtual treasure hunt for a very real treasure. Described by Firstshowing.net as a blend of Avatar, The Matrix, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, this book promises to be really, really big. Get it, probably in multiples.

On a personal note, I listened to this book narrated by Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher from Star Trek: Next Generation) and was quite impressed. It seems to have something for everyone who wants to relive the past from the 70’s and 80’s, not to mention some great action, a fun plot, and a good dose of nostalgia. I’m looking forward to see how this translates into a motion picture…. I’m READY! 🙂

VOYA
“This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper.” Or, in the case of this dystopian future science fiction debut, faulty genetic engineering is responsible for the end of civilization as we know it. After the first generation of genetically-perfect humans is born, their children start dropping like flies. All boys die at age twenty-five, and all girls at age twenty. The first generations are frantically trying to find a cure, before it is too late, for them and their descendants. Kidnapping, conducted by “Gatherers” who look for girls to sell to wealthy first generations, has become a way of life. The story begins when Rhine has been captured by Gatherers and is sold, along with two other girls, to a scientist and his son. Rhine becomes a sister wife to Linden, and the blond replacement for his beloved wife, Rose, who is dying as she has passed the age of twenty. The other two sister wives are Jenna, a dark-haired beauty, who’d rather join her murdered sisters, and red-headed orphan, Cecily, the only one excited at the prospect of marrying a wealthy man and living and dying in luxury. Brutal housemaster Vaughn is their true captor; his son, Linden, is as much a captive as his new brides. Although Cecily is the first to sleep with Linden and—at age fourteen—to give him a son, Rhine, who sleeps beside but never with her husband, is the one who becomes his glittering first wife. She is also the one who continually dreams of escape and comes up with a plan, involving a young male attendant who will do anything for her. This beautifully-written debut fantasy, with its intriguing world-building, well-developed characters and intricate plot involving flashbacks as well as edge-of-the-seat suspense, will keep teens riveted to the plight of Rhine and her sister wives. The compelling cover will draw them in and the cliffhanger ending will leave them eagerly awaiting volumes two and three of The Chemical Garden Trilogy. This thought-provoking novel will also stimulate discussion in science and ethics classes. Reviewer: B. Kunzel

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Publishers Weekly

 

Using free verse as her vehicle, Hopkins (Crank, Glass) takes readers on a harrowing ride into the psyches of 16-year-old identical twins Kaeleigh and Raeanne, both of whom are racing toward self-destruction. The girls’ family appears picture-perfect. Their father is a prominent judge, their mother is running for Congress, and both girls do well in school. But ever since an accident, “Mom doesn’t love anyone./ She is marble. Beautiful./ Frigid. Easily stained/ by her family. What’s left/ of us, anyway. We are corpses.” Raeanne seeks escape in sex and drugs; Kaileigh binges and cuts herself. Brief, gutsy confessions reveal a history of sexual abuse and emotional neglect, and it’s not clear that both girls will survive it. Hopkins’s verse is not only lean and sinuous, it also demonstrates a mastery of technique. Strategically placed concrete verse includes a poem about revenge shaped like a double-edged sword; in another, about jealousy, the lines form one heart reflecting another, until a rupture breaks the symmetry at the bottom. Often, the twins’ entries mirror each other, on facing pages: although used differently in the two poems, the same key words are set off in corresponding stanzas (“think./ How/ different/ life./ could be” reads one set of key words). Those for whom Uncle Vampire means something will anticipate the still-breathless climax; all others, including most of the target audience, will be shocked. Ages 14-up. (Aug.)

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From the Publisher

Once she was Eon, a girl disguised as a boy, risking her life for the chance to become a Dragoneye apprentice. Now she is Eona, the Mirror Dragoneye, her country’s savior — but she has an even more dangerous secret.

She cannot control her power.

Each time she tries to bond with her Mirror Dragon, she becomes a conduit for the ten spirit dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered by Lord Ido. Their anguish floods through her, twisting her ability into a force that destroys the land and its people.

And another force of destruction is on her trail.

Along with Ryko and Lady Dela, Eona is on the run from High Lord Sethon’s army. Sethon has declared himself Emperor. In order to stop him, the renegades must find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona’s power if he is to wrest back his throne.

Eona, with its pulse-pounding drama, thrilling fight scenes, sizzling tension — and many surprises — brings to a close an epic story.

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School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up—Picking up after the surprising revelations of Incarceron (Dial, 2010), Fisher abruptly returns readers to the dystopian world and its living prison. Still trapped inside, Attia and Keiro are doing whatever they can to survive on their quest to find the Outside. Finn, meanwhile, has escaped and is now preparing to take his place on the Realm’s throne. Not completely convinced, Claudia and Jared are attempting to groom Finn to take his place as Prince Giles. Things are almost on track when a Pretender makes a bid for the throne, threatening both Finn’s and Claudia’s lives. Amid the discordance in the Realm, Incarceron itself hunts for Sapphique’s famed glove, an object that may help the prison gain a human body. Now, Attia, Keiro, and the Warden are attempting to keep the glove from Incarceron, while Finn, Jared, and Claudia are trying to hold the Realm together from the Outside. Fisher again crafts a dark, interesting foray into vivid imagery, danger, surprising twists, and intriguing revelations. This story is not quite as strong as Incarceron, but return readers will nonetheless enjoy it; new readers should, however, be steered back to the first volume. Readers will be left breathless hoping for another installment to explore the repercussions brought on by everything that happens in Sapphique’s final chapters.—Jessica Miller, New Britain Public Library, CT

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VOYA

Amy is not being forced to undergo cryogenic freezing and join her parents’ three-hundred-year voyage to a new planet, Centauri-Earth; the thought of living on Sol-Earth without them, however, is so horrendous that she consents. When she is awakened fifty years prematurely, she is unprepared for what she encounters: a community similar to that in Lois Lowry’s The Giver (Houghton Mifflin, 1993/VOYA August 1993)—people who are mono-ethnic, robotic, unthinking. Elder, the spaceship Godspeed’s future leader when Eldest dies, is intrigued by Amy’s differences (although Eldest says the first cause of discord is differences)—her red hair, her energy, her independent thought. When three other passengers are found thawing and two of them die, the mystery begins: who is attempting to kill this cargo and why? This begins to haunt Amy and Elder. As they delve into life aboard Godspeed, they uncover more than they bargained for. Might Eldest’s iron fist be the right way to rule, or are differences and independent thought to be cherished? Revis’s debut novel is well written and suspenseful. Readers will understand Amy’s concern during the freezing process and after waking up, alone, in an alien environment. Elder, only sixteen, has not been trained to be Eldest, and as he explores Godspeed, he discovers how much is hidden from him. Eldest, as the older generation, is tyrannical, while Elder is open to change. The secondary characters add color to this fast-paced story. Across the Universe will appeal to boys and girls, science fiction fans, and anyone interested in a good story. Reviewer: Ed Goldberg

From the Publisher

The Summer King is missing; the Dark Court is bleeding; and a stranger walks the streets of Huntsdale, his presence signifying the deaths of powerful fey.

Aislinn tends to the Summer Court, searching for her absent king and yearning for Seth. Torn between his new queen and his old love, Keenan works from afar to strengthen his court against the coming war. Donia longs for fiery passion even as she coolly readies the Winter Court for battle. And Seth, sworn brother of the Dark King and heir to the High Queen, is about to make a mistake that could cost his life.

Love, despair, and betrayal ignite the Faery Courts, and in the final conflict, some will win . . . and some will lose everything.

The thrilling conclusion to Melissa Marr’s New York Times bestselling Wicked Lovely series will leave readers breathless.

Publishers Weekly

Houck’s debut YA fantasy, which she self-published in 2009, is richly imagined, but pacing and technique lag behind her inventiveness. Eighteen-year-old Kelsey Hayes gets a temporary summer job working at a one-ring circus that features a white Bengal tiger named Dhiren. Kelsey and Ren, as she calls the tiger, form an immediate bond, and when a mysterious businessman purchases Ren, Kelsey is asked to escort him to his new home on an Indian reserve (despite her complete lack of experience). Given extensive foreshadowing, it’s no surprise that Ren turns into a man once back in his native land, inspiring Kelsey to break the ancient curse that forces Ren to shape-shift. The attractive premise is let down by wooden dialogue, excessive detail, and wobbly mechanics; Kelsey’s plainspoken narration more often befits a preteen than a high school graduate (“Poor thing. All alone with no girl tiger and no tiger cubs”). Houck doesn’t quite realize her potential in this outing. Two companion books, Tiger’s Quest and Tiger’s Voyage, are due later in 2011. Ages 12 up.

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Publishers Weekly

This prequel to Graceling, Cashore’s smashing debut, may initially frustrate readers wanting more about Katsa and Po. Fire takes place long before Katsa’s birth in an adjacent kingdom called the Dells and shares only one character. But its themes—embracing your talents and moving out of your parents’ shadow—are similar, as is the absorbing quality of Cashore’s prose. The Dells do not have gracelings; they have beautiful creatures called monsters that are like normal animals except for their exquisite coloration. Seventeen-year-old Fire, who can read and control minds, is the last human monster. Her father, a corrupt adviser to a debased king, recognizes the dangers of her powers and exiles her to the hills, where she is raised by an out-of-favor military commander and befriended by his son, Archer. Many twists propel the action, and although astute readers will suspect who the eventual lovers will be from their first hateful meeting, the buildup to their romance provides tension that keeps the pages turning. Cashore’s conclusion satisfies, but readers will clamor for a sequel to the prequel—a book bridging the gap between this one and Graceling. Ages 14–up