Unwind- A Teen Reader Review

Cover image for Unwind

Title: Unwind

Author: Neal Shusterman

Summary: The Second Civil War is over.  The Pro-Choice and Pro-Life armies finally came to an agreement.  All children are safe until age 13.  Then, until age 18 their parents have a choice.  They can unwind their children; take apart their bodies and use 100% of their parts as transplants to aid other living humans, so the children never truly die.  This twisted dystopia chills you to the bone, the circumstances far too realistic, and the world’s reaction way too real.  Unwind by Neal Shusterman leaves you with the chilling question, what if?

The novel follows Connor Lassiner, a problem child with an unwind warrant signed who is desperate to survive.  Risa Ward, a girl who is unwound as a budget cut, who has the smarts to escape her fate.  And Lev Calder, a boy born to be unwound, who is in love with his fate and will do anything to complete the deed.  These three unlikely allies create a tentative alliance, and have to go to drastic measures to survive, as the world goes more and more insane around them.

This novel leaves you with so many questions, and an impossible moral debate.  Luckily there’s more in this incredible series, but the chilling realism of this book stays with you long after turning the final page.  Everyone should read this novel, if as nothing else a warning of the future.  You may say that there’s no chance that we can ever do something like this, but read on and look to today and how we’re already tumbling towards it.  This book stays with you forever, and this series should be a classic, and is a must read for all, teen or adult.

If you like this, try readingHunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth, I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Reviewer Rating: 5/5 Stars

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 RBdigital through Fairfield Public Library.

Recommended by-Josie, a teen reader

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Six of Crows- A Teen Reader Review

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Title: Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Summary:  A thief that can outsmart anyone and is always one step ahead of his enemies.  The Wraith, a mysterious spy with a painful past who never slips up. A powerful Heartrender who uses her powers to survive, and has used her status to betray. A convict with a moral code, and a deep hatred for one of their own.  A mysterious runaway whose status on the team is uncertain.  A sharpshooter with a secret, and who can never walk away from a bet.  Six unlikely friends stuck together by even more unlikely circumstances, and whose adventures have even more unlikely conclusions.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo by is a spectacular fantasy novel set in an intriguing new universe.  Kaz, a mysterious thief who always knows more than he lets on, brings together six individuals for the biggest most dangerous job in the world, which is dwarfed by the even larger reward.  The job?  Breaking into the fabled Ice Courts to free a man who may already be dead.  An impossible task.  A job that holds the fate of the world in its hands.

We follow the heroes through a multi-perspective 480 page novel that constantly leaves you wanting for more, and always delivers.  The novel is rewarding and exiting, the adventures leaving your heart racing, and the twists leaving you reeling.  This found family novel both melts your heart and breaks your heart; but never fear, there’s a second book that you’re going to want to check out immediately after finishing.  My only criticism is that it isn’t longer.

If you like this, try reading- A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Shwab,  A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, and The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien

Reviewer Rating: 5/5

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: Josie, a Teen Reader

The Emotionary

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Title: The Emotionary: A Dictionary of Words That Don’t Exist for Feelings that Do

Author: Eden Sher

Illustrator: Julia Wertz

Summary: Are you a ‘big-time feeler?’ Actress (best known for her stellar comedic work as Sue Heck on The Middle) Eden Sher is – to the point where she sometimes would have a hard time expressing her emotions through words. In order to overcome this, she began creating her own portmanteaus (a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others – think ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’ becoming brunch) to try and describe her the times when her feelings couldn’t be described by any existing definition. The result is this hilarious and charming collection of new words for the times that you just…can’t.

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Featuring delightful illustrations by Julia Wertz, often depicting her friendship with Sher and the construction of the book itself, this collection is a fast-paced and wickedly funny dive into the world of conflicting emotions. You’ll laugh, but you’ll also find yourself nodding your head in wonder as you discover that other people have the same feelings as you, and you may be relieved to finally find a way to define those tricky, complicated emotions you’ve had to deal with.

Who will like this book?: This is a great choice for any reader. Those afflicted with all the feels. Fans of Sher from her television work. Anyone feeling a bit stressed or overwhelmed who needs a book that isn’t too silly but will still make them laugh.

If you like this, try this: For a classic spin on the clever redefining of words, try The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce. Another wildly imaginative use of language – in this case, the alphabet – to shape a story, Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Maybe A Fox

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Title: Maybe a Fox

Authors: Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee

Summary: Sylvie and Jules Sherman are sisters who live with their father in the Vermont woods. Each day, they take the bus to school and sit, crammed three-to-a-seat with their best friend and neighbor Sam. All three love the woods that separate their houses, spending their time exploring every nook and cranny, and tossing wish rocks, with their burning desires written on them, into the Slip, a wondrous and dangerous natural formation that alters that path of the local river. Jules hasn’t found her wish yet, but Sylvie’s wish is to run – faster, faster, and faster while Sam wishes for the return of the catamount – a rare, wild thing. All three have been touched by grief: Sylvie and Jules lost their mother years ago, and Sam’s brother Elk has just returned from war but is changed – his best friend Zeke did not survive. One winter’s day before the bus arrives, the unthinkable happens to the Sherman family.

A fox is born in the deep woods. Senna is no mere fox, however: She is Kennen, alive with a thousand years of fox-knowledge in her bones and a sense that she is meant to find someone, and that someone is the girl crying and screaming a name into the trees. And a voice insider her head is always urging her to fun, faster and faster.

This is a lyrical story about loss, unbearable grief, the way we sometimes wish for impossible things and the unknown magic that animates our lives . Co-written by authors Appelt and McGhee, this books features gorgeous, stop-you-in-your-tracks writing in service of a simple and truth-filled tale that will stick with you for a long time.

Who will like this book: This is a great book for all ages. Readers who like stories that make them cry. People living with grief. Animal lovers.

If you like this, try this: Pax by Sara Pennypacker. See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles. Harvey: How I Became Invisible by Herve Bouchard.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Marvels

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Title: The Marvels

Author/Illustrator: Brian Selznick

Summary: In 1766, Billy Marvel, survivor of a terrible shipwreck that claimed the life of an entire crew of sailors, including his brother, lands in London. He finds work in a theater and becomes the founding member of an acting dynasty that would span generations and centuries until it fell into ruin. All that remains of the legendary family is their strange and mysterious mansion in London. Decades later, young Joseph Jervis flees his country boarding school in search of his best friend who has moved to the city. Lost and alone, he calls upon his reclusive uncle Albert, who lives in the incredible and bizarre home that once belonged to the Marvels. Albert has no time or patience for Joseph, and he lives by very strict and strange rules about what can be touched, moved or used in the house. With the help of the girl next door, Joseph is determined to discover the secrets of the house, the truth about Marvels and reasons why his uncle seems so peculiar.

This is another masterpiece from Mr. Selznick – author of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which was a past One Book One Town title (so yes…we might be a bit biased!) – that takes an unusual artistic artifact – in this case, the Severs house in London, to tell a universal story of love and connection. The history of the Marvel family is told wordlessly and the story of Joseph and Albert is expressed in words, with both tales twisting and spinning their way together for a satisfying and emotional resolution that will stick with you for a long time. This is a book full of surprises and you’ll want to share it with everyone you know.

Who will like this book: Other than everybody? Fans of graphic and illustrated fiction. Artists and actors. Readers who like mysterious stories and characters, but not crime stories or creepy thrills.

If you like this, try this: Anything else by Brian Selznick. (You’ve read Wonderstruck and The Invention of Hugo Cabret already, right?!) The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Symphony for the City of the Dead

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Title: Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad

Author: M.T. Anderson

Summary: During World War II, the Russian city of Leningrad, formerly known as St. Petersburg, was bombed and held under siege by Nazi forces for almost three years, unable to obtain fresh food or other necessities for survival. Starving and desperate, residents of the cosmopolitan cultural capital of the nation endured unspeakable horrors. It was the stuff of nightmares, but it was also a source of inspiration, as famous composer Dmitri Shostakovich created a piece of music that would come to demonstrate to the war-torn world the incredible strength of his native city, the Seventh Symphony.

Born before the Russian Revolution, Shostakovich was a living witness to an incredible time in world history. This stunning and impeccably researched work of non-fiction describes the epic story of the war in the U.S.S.R. by telling the story of this one man, an artist who had been held up a both a hero and a pariah by those in charge over the course of his turbulent life. This book is challenging and deeply rewarding, much like author Anderson’s acclaimed fiction including Feed and The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing. Even if you think you know all there is to know about World War II, this book will surprise you.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who are interested in history. Musicians and artists. People who are curious about everyday life under war conditions.

If you like this, try this: For more on Russian history, try The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming. The Road of Bones by Ann Fine. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. For mature readers, City of Thieves by David Benioff.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Dumplin’

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Title: Dumplin’

Author: Julie Murphy

Summary: Willowdean Dickson is waiting for that moment when her life will really start. Living in a small Texas town famous for it’s beauty pageant as a fat girl isn’t always easy, but Will knows that she is who she is and she shouldn’t have to apologize for it. Even though things have been tougher since her beloved Aunt Lucy passed away, Will has always had her long-time best friend Ellen, a new job at Harpy’s Dogs and Burgers, and her own piece of freedom in the form of her car, Jolene, named after the legendary song by her all-time hero, Dolly Parton. As the summer before junior year begins, Will begins to realize that Bo, the hot athlete from a local private school might want to be more than just co-workers with her. Is this the beginning of her real life? Suddenly she finds her hard-won self-confidence begin to slip away, setting into a motion a chain of events that will reshape her life and her outlook, forever.

There is a strong chance that this might become your new favorite book. It captures some of the raw truths of navigating the high school experience as someone who doesn’t conform to what is supposedly normal to reveal that, in fact, everyone has something unique about them that makes them better than whatever normal is supposed to be. This delightful and emotional story deserves to be read by anyone who has ever felt less than perfect. Readers will feel like they have been transported to Texas and will wish that Willowdean could leap off the page and into their lives.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who are fans of Rainbow Rowell and John Green. Anyone who ever dreamed of being a pageant queen.

If you like this, try this: Food, Girls and Other Things I Can’t Have by Allan Zadoff. This Book Isn’t Fat It’s Fabulous by Nina Beck. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. For mature readers, The Duff by Kody Keplinger.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian