Only Ever Yours

OEY-USA

Title: Only Ever Yours

Author: Louise O’Neill

Summary: frieda and isabel are eves that have been best friends almost since they were created. Now, at age 16, they are in their final year of training at their isolated academy, both near the top of the class and sure to be selected as companions of the Inheritors – the boys who are born on the outside. The girls have been working towards this goal since they were designed – refining their beauty, maintaining their perfect figures, and learning how to cater to every whim of the men who control the world. Each year, three ‘eves’ are created for each boy born on the outside and those who are not chosen as companions will live the rest of their lives as concubines – set aside for male pleasure only, or as chastities – those considered so undesirable that they remain forever training future eves.

Even the idea of living as anything other than a companion horrifies frieda, so she cannot understand why isabel has drifted away from her during such a crucial time when they are so close to graduation. What’s worse is that isabel seems to have given up her top position – gaining weight rapidly and dropping off the weekly rankings of the eves entirely. As the other eves jockey for position and the introduction of the Inheritors – who will make the decision about their fate – looms, frieda is desperate to hold on to her future in a world where all that matters is your beauty. Can she face this world alone, without isabel’s friendship and support? Or will she be left behind to endure the cruelty of the eves, chastities and men?

This is a gripping dystopia that takes our modern obsession with physical perfection to a horrifying but all-too-plausible end. The sheer brutality of the world created by Irish author O’Neill will be challenging for some readers to engage with, but for those who are interested in dark social horror stories will find much to think about in these pages. It might make you angry, but you won’t soon forget this book and it just might make you look at our world a bit differently.

Who will like this book?: This is an intense book recommended for mature, experienced readers only. People who are interested in feminist theory, or who like to engage in philosophically- or morally-based dystopian ideas. Readers who like books that will keep them up at night, thinking and thinking…

If you like this, try this: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. The Wither series by Lauren DeStefano. The Selection series by Kiera Cass.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Thirteen Chairs

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Title: Thirteen Chairs

Author: Dave Shelton

Summary: Jack has always been a curious boy. He has always been drawn to the abandoned house in his neighborhood and one night, when he discovers that it is lit from within, he finally summons the courage to step inside. What Jack finds surprises him: thirteen candles, thirteen chairs, and twelve very different people who have gathered to share their stories. The thirteenth chair is for Jack. As each speaker concludes their tale, they blow out their candle and the room grows darker…and Jack must wait his turn.

These short stories are perfect for the spooky season – full of chills and surprise twists and turns. This is a great introduction to horror and ghost stories for younger readers who are interested in this genre. Just don’t read these tales before you go to bed for the night!

Who will like this book?: Fans of short stories. Fans of ghost stories. Readers who like tales that are creepy, but not ‘can-never-sleep-again’ terrifying.

If you like this, try this: The Ghosts of Kerfol by Deborah Noyes. M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman. If you want something even more horrific, mature readers can check out Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, edited by April Genevieve Tucholke.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Archivist Wasp

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Title: Archivist Wasp

Author: Nicole Kornher-Stace

Summary: Wasp was chosen by the goddess Catchkeep to become an Archivist – the person who will protect her desolate village from the hordes of wordless, mindless ghosts that swarm just outside the walls. In order to maintain her position, she must battle – and kill – the three Upstarts who challenge her each year. Wasp is weary of her work, her isolation from the others in her town, the barely-contained hatred of the Upstarts who want to see her fall, and most of all, the abusive mind games of the Catchkeep priest who she reports to. She has a rebellious nature – while she is supposed to catch and destroy ghosts, she finds herself fascinated by them and takes her other responsibility – to study and learn more about them, as seriously as the first.

After a brutal near-defeat at the hands of the latest batch of Upstarts, Wasp goes hunting and makes a startling discovery: She meets a ghost who can communicate with her. He is unlike any other ghost she has encountered – physically strong, mentally aware and very, very persistent. This ghost needs her help. And so begins an incredible, sometimes brutal story about what it means to be a good person, the nature of friendship versus self-reliance, and the potential benefits of breaking all the rules. While this is technically a dystopian story, it has a timeless, almost fairy tale-feeling about it. This impressive novel will leave you with a lot to think about.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers of fantasy who like ‘otherworldly’ tales. Fans of strong, smart female characters. Anyone who likes books that keep revealing details on how they work as you read them.

If you like this, try this: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld. Into the Grey by Celine Kiernan. For mature readers, What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Jackaby

Title: Jackaby

Author: William Ritter

Summary: Abigail Rook has been running for a long time – first from the strict English household of her childhood, where she was expected to be a proper lady, and then from the far-off lands she had first tried to escape to. In 1892, she finds herself aboard a ship headed to New England, where she will find the adventure she has been longing for in the form of R.F. Jackaby, a bizarre investigator who claims to see paranormal creatures that might cause problems both large and small in the world. When Abigail joins him as his assistant, her own sense of careful observation and logic makes them a formidable team.

They are soon on the case of what appears to be a serial killer in their midst and Jackaby is convinced something supernatural is at play. Alternately joining forces with, and then avoiding local authorities, Abigail and Jackaby work to solve the mystery before anyone else, including themselves, lose their lives. This is a terribly fun book for almost any reader. It has elements of mystery, adventure and of course, magic. You will race to the end to see how it all turns out, and you will then wait impatiently for the planned sequel, Beastly Bones, due in September.

Who will like this book?: Fans of stories featuring occult monsters and spirits. Whovians. Readers of supernatural mysteries.

If you like this, try this: The collection The Great Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle. The Shades of London series by Maureen Johnson. While it is not a paranormal story, another great team detective story is The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Zom-B

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Title: Zom-B

Author: Darren Shan

Summary: It begins in a remote village in Ireland.   Footage of vicious zombie attacks and brutal military responses goes viral.  B’s London-based gang of friends and family see the clips, but everyone seems to think it is some kind of hoax.  Some think it is a promo for an upcoming film, others theorize that it is a terrorist plot, or even the ultimate practical joke.  Life goes on for everyone in the rest of the world.

And, life for B means dealing with an abusive and racist father, protecting a battered mother, hanging tough in front of friends, and going to school.   Potential zombies aside, the biggest issue in B’s life is dealing with the urge to go against Dad’s bigotry.  Sometimes it is just easier to agree with him because an unhappy Dad is a violent one.  Unfortunately, it’s becoming evident that  B’s decision to just pretend to go along with Dad’s views is beginning to influence how B behaves towards kids from other racial backgrounds.  Even at school, B is receiving mixed messages about tolerance and B’s finding it hard to separate right from wrong.

However, that internal struggle is momentarily sidelined the day B’s school is attacked by zombies.  The attack is sudden, and B and a group of diverse students  must get over their shock and disbelief immediately if they are to escape the carnage.

Who will like this book?:  This incredibly fast-paced book is great for fans of action and, of course, zombies.  There are some graphic novel-type illustrations that further enhance Darren Shan’s creepy vision of the zombie apocalypse.   This addictive first of a proposed 12 book series already has the next three books in print and subsequent ones are scheduled to be released approximately three months apart.

If you like this, try this:  Of course continue on with the series!  But while you wait, get hooked on Jonathan Maberry’s Rot and Ruin series, Robert Kirkman’s graphic novel series The Walking Dead, and Charlie Higson’s The Dead.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

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

The Age of Miracles

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Title: The Age of Miracles

Author: Karen Thompson Walker

Summary: Julia is an ordinary girl about to embark on an ordinary summer day: Breakfast with her parents, a soccer game, a sleepover with her best friend. She doesn’t know that in every possible way, this is the last ordinary day she will ever have. For some reason, the Earth’s rotation is slowing down. As scientists try to discover why this is happening and people do their best to carry on, the days get longer: 25 hours. 30 hours. 40 hours of sun. Society begins to change as some people stick to clock time: keeping a 24 hour day even if it means sleeping through the bright sunshine; while others attempt to live within the new rhythms of light and dark.

As this slow apocalypse continues, Julia lives her life: friendships that end and begin, growing suspicions about how much the adults in her life really understand about themselves and what is going on around them and planning for an uncertain and maybe even non-existent future. This is a stunningly good book for readers who like science fiction that tells the story of regular people dealing with incredible circumstances. If you like books that make you think about what you would do if you were a character in the story, this one is for you.

Who will like this book?: This is a great book for sophisticated readers who like science fiction that tells the story of regular people dealing with incredible circumstances. If dystopian stories (like The Hunger Games, Matched and Divergent) are your thing, give this book a try.

If you like this, try this: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Ashfall by Mike Mullin. Trapped by Michael Northrop.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian