Back Before Dark – A Teen Reader Review

Image result for back before dark tim shoemaker

Title: Back Before Dark

Author: Tim Shoemaker

Summary: Gordy, Cooper, Hiro and Lunk rode their bikes to Walmart and promised to be back before dark.  They take a break at Kimball Hill Park, and notice that riding bikes to Walmart was not a very good idea and very tiring.  A mini van passes by with a book bag on the roof.  Being boys, Cooper and Gordy make a bet.  If Gordy caught up to the van before it reached the docks, Cooper would have to buy him Chicago style hot dogs at Frank’n Steins. Gordy got on his bike and flew across the sidewalk.  The van stopped at the stop sign and Hiro noticed something strange. The book bag didn’t  move.  Was it taped on?  Was it velcroed on?  Was this a trap?  Instantly terror filled Hiro, he yelled out Gordy’s name telling him to stop.  Cooper and Lunk noticed it too.  They tried warning their friend, but all he did was look back and grin.  When he reached the van he went to get the book bag and it wouldn’t get down. He tried again. A man came out of the van and zapped Gordy with a taser.  He threw Gordy in the van and sped down the road.

Cooper, Hiro and Lunk become desperate. Days pass and Gordy is nowhere to be found. Cooper thinks the worse for his cousin and comes up with an outrageous and reckless plan.  Now the one who was set out to rescue his friend needs to be rescued himself. Sometimes rescuing a friend from darkness means going in after them.

Who will like this book?:  Teens who enjoy crime series or mystery, and also thrill seekers

Where can I find a copy?: Paper copy available at Pequot Library.  Digital copy downloadable from Hoopla through Fairfield Public Library.

Recommended by: Sophia, Middle School Teen Reader

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Code of Silence- A Teen Reader Review!

Image result for code of silence book

Title: Code of Silence

Author: Tim Shoemaker

Summary:  Gordy, Cooper, and Hiro, are a trio that are never apart. They were together the night of the attempted murder and robbery of Frank’n Steins Diner. In fact, they were together inside the diner. That robbery left the owner (Frank) in a coma.  Cooper noticed that the guys were wearing cop pants, and one was wearing leather boots. Hiding behind that counter was one of the scariest moments of their lives. Somehow escaping and taking the surveillance hard drive, they ran for their lives. One of the men caught up to Cooper. The man took Cooper’s house keys, threatened him that if he told anyone anything he would find his house and kill his family. When people approached, the man convinced them that he was a police and sent Cooper home.

Now the trio had problems. They couldn’t go to the police because the guys were wearing cop pants, they had Cooper’s house keys. Telling the truth could kill them. But remaining silent could kill an innocent man. Is there ever a time to lie? And what happens when the truth is dangerous? The trio now has to make a choice. But both choices have their price.  So right there, in Coopers backyard, they made a code of silence. They wouldn’t tell anyone about anything that happened that night. But living a lie, comes with a price.

Who Will like this book?:  Teens who enjoy crime series or mystery, and also thrill seekers

If you like this, try reading?: Back Before Dark by Tim Shoemaker

Where can I find a copy?: Paper copy available at Fairfield Public Library and Fairfield Woods Branch Library.  Digital copy downloadable from Hoopla through Fairfield Public Library.

Recommended by: Sophia, Middle School Teen Reader

What Girls Are Made of

 

TitleWhat Girls Are Made Of

Author: Elana K. Arnold

Summary:  This National Book Award for Young People’s Literature finalist examines the life and choices of an every day teen girl.  One day while fourteen-year old Nina Faye was helping her mother fold a sheet, she was “gifted” with the following advice from her mother, “There is no such thing as unconditional love.”  That simple premise was to shape how Nina perceived her relationship with her mother, how she interacted with friends, and what kind of treatment she deemed acceptable from a romantic partner for years to come.   You see, if love is not unconditional you will do anything to get the boy you love to notice you.   And, you will do anything to keep that boy once you have him.  And, when you lose that boy to another, it will crush you and you will wonder how you can get by in life.

Arnold’s writing is stunningly honest and the issues of body image, sexuality, family dynamics, and friendship will be relatable to many.  That being said, it is definitely written for a mature young adult audience as the handling of the above issues is fairly graphic.  It’s also a very sad story and Nina’s choices may be difficult for some readers to appreciate or understand.    As an aside, I highly recommend reading the author’s note.  It will make you view the story you just read in a whole new light.

Who will like this book?  Mature YA readers who like books that deal with gritty, real life situations with all the drama, sadness and loneliness teens sometimes feel.

If you like this, try readingSpeak, Winter Girls, or The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson, any book by Ellen Hopkins,  and Whale Talk or Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher.

Where can I find: Paper copy available at Fairfield Public Library and Fairfield Woods Branch Library, Digital copy downloadable from Overdrive through Fairfield Public Library, and audio copy downloadable from Hoopla through Fairfield Public Library.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Teen Librarian

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

a wrinkle in time, graphic novel

Title: A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

Author: Madeleine L’Engle’s classic book adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson

Summary:  If you’re as excited as I am about the upcoming movie A Wrinkle in Time, then you need to pick up this book.  Illustrator, cartoonist and two-time Eisner Award winner (think the comic book industry’s equivalent of the Oscars) Hope Larson inks this fast-paced graphic adaptation of the Madeleine L’engle classic.  Using a palette of blue, black, and white Larson captures the angst filled Meg, the inconceivable genius that is Charles Wallace, and sheer goodness of Calvin in every pane.

The story opens with the introduction of Meg, a thirteen-year old misfit, struggling to deal with the disappearance of her beloved father.  Her scientist mother and her equally misunderstand and underestimated  five-year-old child prodigy brother, Charles Wallace, seem to be the only ones that understand her.  On a stormy night, a new and eccentric neighbor, Mrs. Whatsit, stops in for a visit with Charles Wallace, Meg, and Mrs. Murry.  The next day while exploring, Charles Wallace and Meg run across Calvin, a popular upperclassman from Meg’s school.  Calvin seems to immediately bond with the two because deep down he too has always felt like a misfit.  The trio then go to the home of Mrs. Whatsit and meet up with her equally eccentric/otherworldly companions- Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which.  Shortly thereafter, adventure ensues when the three otherworldly entities enlist the help of the children to find Mr. Murry and quite possibly save the world from ultimate evil.

Who will like this?: Fans of the original book will want to check out this inventive retelling.  If you’ve never tried reading a graphic novel, but love fantasy with a splash of sci-fi this is a great book to start with.

If you like this, try reading:  Some other graphic novel classic retellings such as: Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation by Tim Hamilton; Romeo & Juliet, graphic novel adaptation by Garth Hinds; and The Conte of Monte Cristo Manga Classics by Alexandre Dumas (Author),‎ Nokman Poon (Artist),‎ Crystal Chan (Artist)

Where can I find a copy?:  Paper copies can be found at Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield Woods Branch Library, and the Pequot Library.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Teen Librarian

Renegades

renegadesTitle: Renegades

Author: Marissa Meyer

Summary:  In Renegades, Marissa Meyer envisions a world where prodigies, persons  either born with or who attain later in life superhero type attributes, are relatively plentiful.  From being able to transform into a swarm of butterflies to the ability to create bombs out of thin air, the talents of prodigies are varied and unique.  Once they were persecuted and hated, but then a group of prodigies called Anarchists rose up and challenged the status quo, fighting against prodigy persecution and all forms of government and institutions of order and control.  For a time with the Anarchists in control, chaos reigned and those without powers suffered and starved.  Then the Renegades, five mighty prodigies intent on bringing back order and saving the world from itself, battled the Anarchists killing all but a handful.  Now the Renegades are a huge organization and symbol of justice and hope.  They also basically run the world and people without powers seem to be completely dependent on them.

Enter into the scene, Nova, aka Nightmare.  She was only a child when the Anarchists and Renegades fought- a child born with the ability to put a person to sleep by simply a touch.  She’s  a gifted inventor, has some serious fighting skills, and is bent on the destroying the Renegades.  Nova has a reason for hating the Renegades and plotting their demise.  But, some of her venom is tempered when she gets to know a young Renegade name Adrian.  Adrian truly believes in justice and doing the right thing.  But will being Nova’s burgeoning friendship (and possibly a little more) with Adrian be enough to throw her off her mission to destroy the Renegade organization?

Who will like this?:  Meyer’s writing is a hybrid of fantasy and sci-fi.  If you enjoy strong female protagonist, she is the author for you.   She carefully crafts her worlds and characters so readers must be willing to make a commitment to reading the whole story.  Trust me it is worth it…I would read the back of a cereal box if Marissa Meyer wrote it.

If you like this, try reading:  Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series is a must.  For a little more light-hearted and humorous superhero take try Perry Moore’s  Hero.  And,  for a serious, epic tale of good against evil with strong female characters try An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Where can I find a copy?: Paper copy available at Fairfield Public Library and Fairfield Woods Branch Library and digital copy downloadable from Overdrive through Fairfield Public Library.

Recommended by: Jen,  Fairfield Woods Teen Librarian

Flunked

FlunkedTitle: Flunked

Author: Jen Calonita

Summary:  Twelve-year old Gilly isn’t a bad kid, she’s just done some bad things.  Or, at least the rest of the Enchantasia thinks Gilly’s thieving ways are signs of a tween heading in the wrong direction.  What they don’t take into account is that Gilly steals to keep her siblings fed and provide them with the occasional extra treat or gift.  Unfortunately for Gilly, since motives don’t matter, when she is caught stealing for the third time she is immediately sentenced to the latest development for transforming wayward kids into upstanding citizens- Fairy Tale Reform School (“FTRS”).

FTRS was founded by Flora, the fairly-recently reformed and formerly wicked step-mother of Cinderella, upon realizing the error of her ways and wishing to make amends by helping mischievous youth.  And, FTRS doesn’t just offer troubled youths a second chance, it’s also staffed by former villains like the Sea Witch and Big Bad Wolf.   But with Pegasus riding, big prepared meals, new friends, and only having to share a spacious tower room with one roommate, Gilly is finding reform school really isn’t much of a punishment.  In fact, if she didn’t have a family to worry about it’s the kind of place a kid could get used to.  Then mysterious and dangerous events start to occur, and Gilly and her friends are beginning to wonder if all of their teachers have truly left their villainous ways in the past.

Who will like this?:  This light, quick read is a great selection for middle grade readers who enjoy fairy tale retellings.

If you like this, try reading: The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer, Ever After High series by Shannon Hale, and Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski.

Where can I find a copy?: Paper copy available at Fairfield Public Library and Fairfield Woods Branch Library, Digital copy downloadable from Overdrive through Fairfield Public Library, and audio copy downloadable from Hoopla through Fairfield Public Library.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Teen Librarian

There’s Someone Inside Your House

there's someone insdie your house

Title: There’s Someone Inside Your House

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Summary:  Known for her YA romances, Stephanie Perkins steps out of her comfort zone with this horror/thriller.  Fans of hers don’t despair though, there is still some romance, it just takes a backseat to a serial killer on the loose.  Perkins gives her audience two mysteries to keep them flipping those pages as fast as their brains can process the words.  The first centers around our main character Makani Young.  Raised in Hawaii, she’s a recent transplant to Nebraska.  She was sent to live with her grandmother under the guise of taking care of her, but there’ a story behind her banishment from paradise.  What could she have done to warrant losing all her friends and having her parents turn their backs on her?

Now if worrying about Makani and her secret past weren’t enough, readers will be riveted by the fast-paced death count racked up by a mysterious serial killer.  The murders are grisly and the motivation is unknown.  The killer appears to be unstoppable and on a mission.  Makani seems to be his list, but in order to fight a killer she just might need to make peace with her past.

Who will like this?:  Obviously fans of thrillers and horror will tear through this one.  It’s a good starter book for those new to the genre because there is also a romance and friendship subplot.

If you like this, try reading: One of Us is Lying by Karin McManus or Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

Where can I find a copy?: A paper copy can be found Fairfield Public Library and a digital copy is downloadable from Overdrive through Fairfield Public Library.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian