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

Cover image for Six of crows

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

Swagger

swagger

Title: Swagger

Author: Carl Deuker

Summary: Jonas is nervous about moving to Seattle. He was an all-star with a shot at a college scholarship at his old school – will he be able to get on the team and garner the stats he needs to compete at his new one? Before school begins, he meets two important people who will change his life forever: His neighbor Levi, the son of a strict pastor with a simple manner and a good heart who is also a monster on the court and potential future teammate, and Ryan Hartwell, a local guy not much older than them who hangs out at the practice court with a lot of good advice on how to improve their game. Hartwell tells Jonas and Levi that they need to celebrate their swagger on the basketball court and in life – but the collision of these three people will lead to both incredible success and devastating, irreversible damage.

At first this book seems like a simple sports story about teammates and friends. As the pages turn, however, it becomes something deeper, more affecting and ultimately unforgettable. Jonas is a protagonist you will really root for, even as he makes questionable decisions in part of a chain of events that may leave you heartbroken. While it contains sensitive content, Deuker, a master of sports fiction, handles these serious situations without sensationalism and with careful grace. A challenging and rewarding tale that should be read by teens and parents/caregivers together.

Who will like this book?: People who like quick reads. Fans of sports stories that are about more than sports. Readers of intense books about friendship.

If you like this, try this: Boy21 by Matthew Quick. Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher. Crackback by John Coy.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

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A Death-Struck Year

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Title: A Death-Struck Year

Author: Makiia Lucier

Summary: Cleo Berry, 17 year-old high school senior has already seen her share of heartache. WWI is finally over, but now there is word in her town of Portland, OR that a mysterious plague – the Spanish Flu has infiltrated many of the Eastern cities in the U.S. When the first cases are reported in her hometown, Cleo’s classes are cancelled and she is told to go home and wait it out in the safety of her family.

Instead Cleo volunteers for the Red Cross which provides the journey for the book. Lucier’s Cleo is introspective, unassuming, and often unsure of herself. But when challenged, she makes bold choices which surprise her and propel her life forward. A Death-Struck Year combines the best of YA, historical fiction and even manages some romance in the mix. Lucier’s book is accessible to all ages. There’s enough guts and glory to satisfy those hungry for everyday historical heroines balanced with an easy read and an ultimately happy ending.

Who will like this book?: YA Historical fiction readers, those attracted to the forces of nature, epidemics, and dystopian novels, teen heroine fiction, and coming of age fiction.

If you like this, try this: The Winter Horses by Philip Kerr, Palace of Spies  (Palace of Spies #1) by Sarah Zettel, Black Dove, White Raven by  Elizabeth Wein,  

Recommended by: Philip B. Reference Librarian

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces

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Title: Gabi, A Girl in Pieces

Author: Isabel Quintero

Summary: During her senior year of high school, Gabi Hernandez keeps a diary about the things that are on her mind: friends, her appearance, guys, family, college and the future. Each piece of her life has its own complications and contradictions: Her best friends are dealing with coming out and an unplanned pregnancy. Her dad is in and out of her life due to his meth addiction. And does a Mexican-American girl from a poor neighborhood really have any chance of getting in to college, let alone her top choice school? Gabi finds herself making serious decisions about her life and the person she wants to be, as well as discovering her talents as a writer and artist over the course of an awful, wonderful, unforgettable year.

Don’t let the strange-looking cover fool you  – this is an incredible book and worthy 2017 High School Nutmeg nominee, as well as a Printz Honor winner, for a reason. If the story sounds melodramatic, that’s because it is – but only a bit more so than the life of any teen girl  growing up today. What makes this book extraordinary is its clear-eyed portrayal of the ups and downs that make up an ordinary life. You will be so glad to have spent time observing the world through Gabi’s eyes and will miss her frank, unsentimental voice in your head once the story is done. This is a book that teens and parents should consider reading together – adults could learn quite a bit about what life feels like for young people today.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who like realistic, contemporary fiction. People who like multicultural stories. People who like reading books in diary format.

If you like this, try this: Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas. Yaqui Delgado…by Meg Medina. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Maze Runner

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Title: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Summary:  Thomas doesn’t remember his parents, his friends, or anything from his past life.  He doesn’t even know how he got in the elevator that is climbing to a place like no other, a place the inhabitants a group of about 60 teenage boys call the Glade.  Once he is pulled from the dark box, Thomas begins to learn about his new home and its occupants the Gladers.  The Gladers suffer from the same memory loss as Thomas and arrived in the same manner.  They live together in the Glade, a large town surrounded by walls that are hundreds of feet high.  The walls form a perfect square around them and each side has the same split opening.  Outside the walls, there is a maze that moves every night. It’s populated with deadly monsters the Gladers call Grievers, but they only come out at night. Fortunately, every night the walls close up protecting the boys. 

Inside the Glade everyone has a job.  Some boys cook, some grow food, some butcher animals, while others tend the sick, but the job Thomas is most interested in is being a runner.  Every day runners venture out into the maze and run through its ever-changing paths memorizing the changes as they go.  Before the walls close, each runner must make it back to the glades and sketch out the new pattern of the walls.  The job of a runner is dangerous but vital because the Gladers believe that the answer to escaping the Glade lies somewhere out in the maze. 
 
The Gladers have had a pretty routine life with the walls opening every morning and closing every night.  They have come to expect that every 30 days a new boy will be delivered in the elevator.  However, the day after Thomas arrives the routine is dramatically broken.  The elevator arrives with a girl.  Before passing out, she delivers the ominous message “Everything is going to change.” With her arrival, Thomas begins to feel different.  Something tells him that he and the girl can somehow provide the solution to the maze.  A solution that Thomas will have to go to great and dangerous lengths to retrieve from his memory. 

Who will like this?:  Fans of dystopian fiction will fly through this tense thriller.

If you like this, try this:  The follow-up to this book, The Scorch Trials. The City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

Princess of the Midnight Ball

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Title: Princess of the Midnight Ball

Author:  Jessica Day George

Summary:  After twelve years of war, the country Westfalin has finally managed a victory.  It’s a grim victory with the country deeply in debt to her allies and many soldiers lost.  As the King attempts to raise the spirits of his countrymen, a palace mystery begins to create more strife for the entire country.  It has been discovered that every third night the King’s twelve daughters disappear for hours and return exhausted with worn out dancing slippers.  Unbeknownst to all,  the princesses have been cursed to travel deep into the earth and dance with the King Under Stone’s twelve sons .  Cursed so that they are unable to speak about the forced midnight balls, the princesses must continue to dance through exhaustion and illness. 

In hopes of winning the hand of one of the princesses, princes from neighboring countries travel to Westfalin to try to solve the mystery.  All who try meet with failure and the future for the princesses looks bleak as they are now forced to dance every night.  But then a brave young soldier, Galen, comes to town and starts work in the king’s garden.  There he meets the eldest princess, Rose, and is moved to action by her misery.  Armed with an invisibility cloak, enchanted silver knitting needles, and a little magically assistance Galen attempts to solve the mystery and break the curse that holds the princesses enslaved. 

Who will like this book?  Fans of fairy tales and romantic adventures.

If you like this, try this:  Beastly by Alex Flinn, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread by Kate Dicamillo, Zel by Donna Jo Napoli, Beauty by Robin McKinley, and The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian