All the Bright Places

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This is the story of a boy and girl who you would never expect to have anything in common. Theodore Finch is known as the “weird” boy who has a very strong interest in death and fascinates himself by thinking of ways to commit suicide. Violet Markey blame’s herself for her sister’s death, and is constantly waiting for the future to come faster so she can get out of the small town that reminds her of her sister at every turn. Theodore and Violet have never really crossed paths until the day they both end up on top of the bell tower. That is where Violet saves Theodore, or is it the other way around? Violet and Theodore end up working together on a project where they explore their boring town. Theodore shows Violet the best places around, and they become adventurers. Unfortunately, while Violet begins to enjoy her life, Theodore’s life crumbles into pieces. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Nixen takes you on a wild journey of heartbreak and the sadder parts of life. I chose to read this book because it was easy to see it would be a beautiful story between an unlikely match. The main reason I finished this book was because it was a unique story with a tragic twist. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a tragic but fascinating story in the Young Adult genre.

Check this book out or put it on hold
-Vanessa F.

 

My Heart and Other Black Holes

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For Aysel, nothing in her life seems worthy anymore, which is why she is contemplating taking her own life. Her mother thinks of her as a disgrace and her whole town is frightened by just the thought of her father. Along with her family life, she is constantly being mocked at school. She is fed up with her life so begins to plan for her suicide. After some research, Aysel realizes she needs someone to help her go through with her plan. This is why she goes to a website to find a “suicide partner”. Luckily, she finds the not-so-perfect perfect match. Her match, user FrozenRobot a.k.a. Roman, and Aysel begin to plan things out just the way they want them. As things start to get more serious, Aysel isn’t 100% she wants to go through with the plan. She is now left to make the decision of going through with it or convincing Roman not to. My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga is a heartbreaking take on a could-be love story. It stood out from many other books and is the perfect book for people who enjoy the darker parts in the Young Adult genre.

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-Vanessa F.

 

Before I Fall

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Samantha Kingston is a popular senior with lots of friends and a great boyfriend. She enjoys life and is constantly partying. In fact, February 12th (“Cupid Day”) is one of her favorite times of the year. That is until she dies in a car accident on “Cupid Day.” However, she doesn’t really actually die. Instead, she wakes up the next morning and the morning after that, reliving “Cupid Day” over and over again. Samantha realizes that small decision or actions can change the whole day for her. She begins to find her voice and discover who she really wants to be. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver was one of the most suspenseful books I have ever read. Although it might’ve gotten frustrating, I was determined to finish the book to see what was going to happen to Samantha. I recommend this book to anyone interested in Young Adult books with a great sense of patience. 

Check this book out or put it on hold
-Vanessa F.

 

“The Last Book in the Universe” by Rodman Philbrick

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Rodman Philbrick’s dystopian novel, The Last Book in the Universe, is a narrative framed in a dystopian future, in which escaping reality has become the primary form of entertainment. Due to divisive class separations leaving the less fortunate to struggle for survival in the “Urb” while the upper class live prosperously in the city of “Eden”, the less fortunate are desperate for even a short reprieve from their daily difficulties. This escape is achieved in the form of “mind probes”, drugs that are taken by many as they allow their users to experience realistic hallucinations of more peaceful, enjoyable lives.

The story follows the main character, a teenager called “Spaz” due to his epileptic seizures. Throughout his travels, Spaz makes many new friends, the most notable of them being Ryter, an elderly man with an intense passion for pieces of literature. This is a strange and intriguing hobby to Spaz as, in this largely apocalyptic world, reading has essentially been abandoned. The story follows Spaz as he embarks on a high-stakes, danger-filled journey with his newfound friends in his attempt to forever change the dismal world they are stuck in.

Another theme integrated throughout The Last Book in the Universe that I felt made the book captivating was the idea of genetic engineering. The privileged in this strange society are not just separated by money, but are also separated from the people of the “Urb” on a genetic level. The “proovs” who inhabit Eden are genetically altered to be superior both mentally and physically to the average person. I felt as though this was an interesting topic as many recent biological advancements suggest that the bioengineering of human beings could soon be a real possibility. Though largely grounded in fiction, I found the idea of genetically modified people playing a significant role in shaping society intriguing when considering the futuristic ramifications this type of science may one day actually impose on our society.

I would recommend this book to young adults who thoroughly enjoy novels that belong to the sci-fi genre. The Last Book in the Universe is a short read, but filled with plot turns and near-death encounters that make for a gripping story that many young readers are sure to enjoy.

Check this book out or put it on hold

-Lisa F.

“Tunnels” by Roderick Gordon & Brian Williams

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The novel Tunnels by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams finds 14 year old Will Burrows not quite fitting into suburban society. With stark white skin, platinum hair, and an intense interest in archaeology, Will certainly deviates from the stereotypical teenage norms. When Will and his best friend Chester are on one of their impromptu archaeology expedition, they discover what appears to be, quite literally, an “underground” civilization. When it turns out that the so called “Colony” is much more sinister than it first seemed, Will finds himself attempting to navigate his way through a secret society driven by unknown motives.

I initially read this novel since I was looking for an entertaining book that was also very long to keep me entertained longer. Despite the length of the novel, the story was quick-paced and entertaining with its unique and intricate premise. The book had much darker undertones than the typical young adult novel; however, the fleshed out, three-dimensional characters whom the story is focused around provided the readers with an emotional investment that helped balance the darker subject matter. The book Tunnels was able to easily keep hold of my attention due to its incredibly original plot. I have never read a book with a similar premise to this one making it very refreshing and thought provoking.

I would recommend this book to a wide variety of potential readers. Though the slighter younger audience may want to avoid this book due to its lengthiness and more sinister plot lines, young adult readers looking for an exciting narrative that is atypical from so many other works of fiction will thoroughly enjoy this particular novel.

Check this book out or put it on hold

-Lisa F.

“Runaway” by Wendy Van Draanen

 

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The book Runaway by Wendy Van Draanen tells the story of a girl who, after spending the past several years in the foster care system, attempts to run away from her foster home and live independently. However, Holly’s journey is far more perilous than she originally expected. After leaving the familiarity of her former foster home, she must learn how to survive in a world of unknowns where money can only be obtained by begging, shelter is rarely found, and the time of her next meal is never certain. By her keeping a journal throughout her many trials and tribulations, Holly discovers much about, not only the ways of the world, but the development of her own personal character.

I chose to read this book initially since I found it fascinating that it attempted to tell a narrative through personal diaries with a first person point of view. I found that the book was made much more captivating when the focus was concentrated on Holly’s emotions and reactions to the different experiences she had rather than providing a broader range of perspectives since it allowed the readers to relate more intimately to the main character.

I would recommend this book to people who want to read a story that is more grounded in realism, yet still with likeable characters and optimistic premises despite the poor situations. Overall, the novel told a bittersweet story that acted as a largely accurate representation of the way that, in life, our hardships often eventually turn into happiness.

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-Lisa F.

“Code Orange” by Caroline B. Cooney

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In the book, Code Orange, by Caroline Cooney, a teenaged boy from New York named Mitchell Blake attempts to write a biology report for a school assignment on infectious diseases. He accidentally encounters a book containing sample scabs from an early 1900s smallpox study. Unsure of whether or not he has been affected by the scabs, Mitty encounters moral and logical dilemmas involving those close to him as well as a possible bio terrorist threat after discussing the circumstances of his unique situation online.

I initially chose to read this book when I found it in my school library and thought that the concept was rather interesting and original. The idea that a previously prevented epidemic may resurface and cause new biological concerns is a complex concept not often written about in young adult books.

I would recommend this book to middle and high school aged kids who are interested in the medical field but who are not typically enthralled by nonfiction reading. The plot of the book discussed not only interesting idiosyncrasies of the medical world, but also successfully created a narrative about an adolescent faced with both everyday issues as well as more global, serious conflicts and the attempt to make advantageous choices in the face of adversity, providing substance for both fiction and nonfiction enthusiasts. Code Orange takes interesting ethical and scientific situations and examines them through an easy to relate to, compelling story making it an enriching novel to read.

Check this book out or put it on hold

-Lisa F.