The Diviners

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Title: The Diviners

Author: Libba Bray

Summary: Evie O’Neill finds herself in big trouble over a little parlor trick she performed at a party.  She only meant to get a little attention when she took Harold Brodie’s class ring and attempted to divine a few of his secrets for the crowd.  Instead, she ended up incurring the wrath of the Brodie family and getting banished from her small town of Zenith, Ohio to her Uncle’s home in New York city.  But being sent to one of the most lively cities in the country during the 1920’s is hardly a punishment for a girl who has always been too much for her hometown.  New York city is exactly where Evie wants to be and all she has to do to stay is live with her Uncle Will, a man who stirs up his own fair share of gossip being the head of The Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, and abide by the few rules he sets.

It doesn’t take long before Evie is swept up into the bustle of New York City and reacquainting herself with a childhood best friend and making friends with an exotic Ziegfeld girl, but the good times grind to a halt when a grisly serial killer with ties to the occult starts to accumulate a body count.  Uncle Will is called in by police to help decipher the cryptic symbols left at the murder scenes and Evie talks herself into being included in the case.  It’s a case where her ability to divine secrets from personal objects may just be the key to stopping the killer or in possibly marking her as the next victim.  However, Evie isn’t alone in her efforts to catch the killer or in possessing a unique and otherworldly gift.  Her uncle’s assistant, Jericho hides a secret while her new friend, Theta, is trying to escape from her past. And then there’s Memphis, a young man who has lost his parents and his gift but fights to protect and take care of his younger brother.

Who will like this book?:  Anyone with an appreciation for intelligent and well-written stories will throughly enjoy Libba Bray’s writings.  It’s rare to find a mystery/thriller driven by such well-developed characters, especially one where the paranormal is a key aspect of the storyline.   She’s the only YA author who can make 578 pages seem like a quick read and have you wishing the book was longer.

If you like this, try this:  Thank goodness this is the first in a proposed trilogy because this story is simply too big (and too good) to be confined to one book.  While you wait for the sequel to come out, try some of Libba Bray’s other writings, especially her Gemma Doyle trilogy.   If you are looking for another great historical fiction book try Code Name Verity, there’s no paranormal in the story, but it is an amazing historical story featuring strong female characters in life-and-death situations.  Ruta Sepetys, Out of Easy is another great historical fiction mystery that doesn’t feature the paranormal.  But if paranormal historical fiction is what you want to stay with, give Robin LaFevers’ Grave Mercy a try.

Recommended by:  Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

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My Friend Dahmer

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Title: My Friend Dahmer

Author/Illustrator: Derf Backderf

Summary: Jeffrey Dahmer was a notorious serial killer, responsible for the deaths of 17 men and boys. But before he became a monster, he was a kid growing up in the Midwest alongside author/illustrator Derf. This graphic memoir brings the reader into their world and shows how Dahmer’s crimes had as much to do with the people in his life who failed to see to the warning signs as his own troubled psyche. Beginning with their first acquaintance in middle school in the 1970s, the author tracks his evolving acquaintance with the weird, introverted boy who always seemed to be on the outside looking in.

Derf does not excuse Jeff’s horrifying crimes, but he asks the readers to look a little deeper at the circumstances that enabled Dahmer to become a killer. This book is more about how our actions can have consequences beyond our own understanding at the time. Derf also includes a terrific bibliography and information about his research for those interested in learning more about Dahmer and his crimes. This excellent graphic novel deserves to be read. It is not an easy book, but it is one that you will remember.

Who will like this book?: Older, mature readers interested in crime stories and psychology. This book is disturbing and intense – but it is very thought-provoking and memorable.

If you like this, read this: Stitches by David Small. The true crime graphic novels by Rick Geary, including Jack the Ripper, The Borden Tragedy and The Lindbergh Child. Columbine by Dave Cullen.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

I Hunt Killers

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Title: I Hunt Killers

Author: Barry Lyga

Summary: Most fathers share favorite pastimes with their sons. Using time on the ball field or fixing things around the house as a way to build a relationship and pass on important life skills. But when your Dad is one of the world’s most infamous serial killers, father-son bonding takes on a gruesome aspect. For Jasper (Jazz) Dent childhood was a time spent learning how to become the perfect serial killer. Ever since Jazz can remember, his father groomed him to take over the family business of killing. He has witnessed crimes that would turn the stomachs of experienced cops and understands a crime scene the way a cop never will- from the eyes of criminal.

When Jazz’s father is caught and put away for life, Jazz thinks that way of life is over. He wants nothing more than to sink into normalcy. But when a killer strikes in his sleepy hometown of Lobo’s Nod, Jazz realizes he may hold the key to ending the rampage. Who better to catch a killer than someone who has been trained to think like one? The only problem is Jazz is beginning to wonder if he may truly become his father’s son and take up where dear old dad left off.

Who will like this book?: Fans of horror and fast-paced thrillers will love seeing the world through the eye’s of a complex character like Jazz. Despite the creepy premise, this book is written with humor and overarching themes of friendship and even romance. Fans of the show Dexter will also enjoy the storyline of a young boy being taught how to get away with murder and the demons with which he wrestles to properly channel those urges.

If you like this, try this: Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride or Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake.  For a more serious, historical story about teens trained as assassins try Grave Mercy: His Fair Assassin by Robin La Fevers.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

Variant

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Title: Variant

Author: Robison Wells

Summary: Seventeen-year-old Benson Fisher thinks his life is finally about to change.  The scholarship to Maxfield Academy is his ticket out of the foster care system he bounced around in since the age of five.  Maxfield was to be his means of escape, but now he would give anything to escape Maxfield.  Because Maxfield isn’t like the place he saw on the website or what he was promised by the director, Ms. Vaughn, in the three-hour drive from the Albuquerque airport to the school’s remote location.  Instead, Maxfield is a school surrounded by unclimbable fencing and video cameras that monitor your every more.  A place where no adults are seen, but rules are strictly enforced and breaking one can have deadly consequences.

In order to survive and maintain a certain level of peace, students have developed three groups: Society, Havoc, and Variant.  Each group has specific jobs around the campus and certain beliefs with respect to life at Maxfield.  Everyone must join a group, but does that mean Benson has to buy into the beliefs of his group?   Benson is desperate to escape the school and when he discovers the real secret behind Maxfield he thinks he may have found the means to accomplish it.  Now he just needs to figure out who he can trust because escaping this prision-like school is not going to be a one-man job.

Who will like this?:  Fans of fast-paced thrillers/adventures will be surprised and intrigued with sci-fi kick near the end.

If you like this, try this: The Maze Runner by James Dashner, The Compound by S.A. Bodeen, Lockdown: Escape from Furnance by Alexander Gordon Smith.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

Want to Go Private?

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Title: Want to Go Private?

Author: Sarah Darer Littman

Summary:  Incoming freshman Abby is dealing with a lot these days.  Her best, and only, friend Faith is branching out by making new friends and developing new interests.  Her father is always working, her mother is barely managing, and her younger sister lives to tell on her.  Abby feels like a freak and is tired of being told by her family and Faith that she needs to make more of an “effort” with respect to her appearance. 

Then Abby meets a boy online and suddenly things seem a little easier to deal with.  Luke is always on her side and he listens to her.  He thinks she is beautiful, smart, and funny.  He doesn’t ask her to change and accepts her exactly as she is.  Abby has heard all the lectures about safety online, but what harm is there in talking to a boy online.  It’s not like she is giving him her address and inviting him over to her home. 

The only thing Luke asks of Abby is that she keep him secret from her family, which is fine by her.  How could she ever explain to Faith and her family that she meet her boyfriend, whose almost twice her age, online and has been secretly chatting with him until all hours of the night?  After a blowout with her parents, Abby decides it is time to meet Luke in person.  That night Abby doesn’t come home.  The police are called, but it is up to her family and Faith to piece together the clues in time or they may never see Abby again.  

Who will like this?:   Fans of Ellen Hopkins and Laurie Halse Anderson will find this gritty cautionary tale on the workings of an internet predator riveting.  This is also a book for anyone who thinks the internet is a safe place or that predators are easy to spot. 

If you like this, try this: Hate List by Jennifer Brown;  Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott; Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher; or Dark Song by Gail Giles.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

The Babysitter Murders

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Title: The Babysitter Murders

Author: Jane Ruth Young

Summary: Dani is your average high school junior: She plays tennis, sings in her high school a cappella group, shares her lunch each day with her best friend and has a job babysitting an sweet-natured kid, Alex, most days afterschool. Everything seems to be going well: She’s on track to be co-captain of the tennis team, and the guy she likes seems to like her back. There’s just one problem. She can’t control the thoughts in her head. About calling her mother horrible names. Or outing her gay best friend. Or, most chilling of all, brutally murdering little, adorable Alex.

Dani knows she has to quit her babysitting job, so she decides to tell Alex’s mom the truth: She keeps thinking about killing the boy. When the cops arrive to take her home, Dani believes the worst is over. But as word spreads that a babysitter has threatened a child, the people in town become enraged. Soon the line between truth and rumor become blurred and Dani becomes the target of a national frenzy. This is a brutal, all-too-realistic story that will haunt you and make you think twice about what you read in the tabloids.

Who will like this book: Mature readers who like crime fiction and thrillers. If you’ve ever had a wicked thought and wondered ‘did I say that out loud?,’ this book will scare the socks off you. A good book for teens and parents to share.

If you like this, try this: I am not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells. The Thought That Counts by Jared Douglas Kant.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Gentlemen

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Title: Gentlemen

Author: Michael Northrop

Summary: Michael, Mixer, Bones and Tommy are just serving out their time in high school – class, detention, suspension, it’s all the same to them. When Tommy tosses his desk in the middle of math class and gets sent to the principal’s office, his boys don’t think anything of it. They just move through the day to English class with the awful Mr. Haberman, who goes out of his way to call them gentlemen, for the start of the old, long, and probably stupid book Crime and Punishment. Haberman begins his discussion with a weird, pointless activity: Figure out what is hidden in this barrel by hitting it with a stick. Terrific.

Just another tedious day in English 10R. Until Tommy doesn’t answer his cell. Or show up the next day. Or the day after that. Michael and his friends begin to worry, and to wonder: What exactly was in that barrel? This is a gripping story for mature readers about how far you would go to find out the truth. Would you keep searching, even if it pushes you to the extreme, or threatens to reveal truths about your friends you never really wanted to know? In the end, who can decide what is right or what is wrong? Or are ‘crime’ and ‘punishment’ really opposite sides of the same coin?

Who will like this book: Guys who like intense fiction about ordinary (or even bad) teens in tricky situations. Even if books aren’t really your thing, give this one a try.

If you like this, try this: Creature of the Night by Kate Thompson. Response by Paul Volponi. The Chocolate War or other books by Robert Cormier.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian