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

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

Con Academy

Con-Academy-Joe-SchreiberTitle: Con Academy

Author: Joe Schreiber

Summary: Will Shea has a plan. He’s managed to hack the system and get himself into the prestigious Connaughton Academy for his senior year of high school. All he has to do is impress his absurdly wealthy classmates with his invented back story about being a scholarship student from a tiny island in the Pacific, enter their social circles and leverage those connections forge this path through those connections to a life of immeasurable influence, power and privilege. Will is determined to leave his rough and tumble life on the streets of Trenton, New Jersey, and his less-than-professional con artist father, behind. But things are not going to be as easy as that, once he collides with Andrea, another Connaughton student/scammer who herself is operating under a falsified identity, aiming at the same life path Will has his eyes set on. Suddenly, the long con is on: The first person to reel in the biggest, richest fish on campus gets to stay at the Academy while the other has to try their unlawful scheming elsewhere.

This is a fun and fast-paced story with plenty of twists, turns and fake-outs with elaborate swindles running through the entire story. You’ll be rooting for Will as he finds himself sinking deeper and deeper into his caper as unexpected challenges, including the appearance of his criminal family members and the possibility of a real connection to another Connaughton student, get in the way of his perfect score. Con Academy reads like your favorite school comedy movie and it deserves to find its way on to your list of must-read books.

Who will like this book?: Readers who have ever contemplated a life of (non-violent) crime. Anyone looking for a quick, light read with plenty of action and laughter.

If you like this, try this: How to Lead a Life of Crime by Kirsten Miller. Zen and the Art of Faking It by Jordan Sonnenblick. Tracers by J.J. Howard. For mature readers, Catch Me If You Can: The Amazing True Story of the Youngest and Most Daring Con Man in the History of Fun and Profit by Frank W. Abagnale and The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Ask the Passengers

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Title: Ask the Passengers

Author: A.S. King

Summary: Astrid Jones has a secret, one that she can’t even really define. What she needs is someone to talk to, but who? Her mother has been obsessed with keeping up appearances since the family relocated from the city to the small, close-minded town of Unity Valley. Her dad is busy bouncing from job to job and getting stoned in the attic. And her sister is the perfect, popular small-town girl who their mom has always dreamed of – basically, everything Astrid isn’t. She can’t even really talk to her best friend Christina, who uses her cover as another perfect Unity Valley girl to hide the fact that she is gay. So Astrid lies on the picnic table in her backyard and watches the planes overhead, sending all her love up to the strangers flying through the sky. After all, she feels like she has no one to share it with on the ground.

As Astrid begins her senior year, she is feeling pressure from all sides:  Her mom wants her to date and keeps pressuring her friend Christina to find her a guy, while her co-worker and maybe-girlfriend Dee wants her to come out to her family and friends. But even the idea of calling herself either gay or straight seems dishonest. Taking inspiration from her philosophy class and the great thinkers she is studying, Astrid must begin to take her eyes off the sky and navigate her world here on Earth. With insight from the airline passengers themselves, this honest and beautiful story about coming to terms with who you are and not letting other people tell you what you should be will move you. Readers will want to see Astrid’s story to the end and close the book with a sense of hope and joy in their heart.

Who will like this book?: People who likes stories about how friendships can shift and change over time. Teens who are questioning – their sexuality, the reasons why we do the things we do, or just life in general. Readers who feel the pressure to be perfect. Anyone who has looked at a plane in the sky and wondered about the people on it and where they were headed.

If you like this, try this: The Difference Between You and Me by Madeline George. Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin. The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Wonder

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Title: Wonder

Author: R.J. Palacio

Summary: August Pullman loves Star Wars, his family and his dog Daisy. He is about to start a new school – his first one, really, since he’s been homeschooled. And while that is stressful for just about anybody, it will be even harder for Auggie. He was born with a genetic anomaly that has warped and twisted the features of his face. He has spent his life watching people stare, point, and even get frightened by how he looks. All Auggie wants is to be seen as just another kid, but he knows that it’s never going to be easy for him. You can probably figure out what life will be like for Auggie  in his first year of middle school, but you’ll be surprised by how he responds to it.

Told in the honest and heartfelt voices of Auggie, his sister Via and other people who get to know them, Wonder does a great job of telling what might be a familiar story in a new and exciting way. This isn’t a just story about the negative effects of bullying. Wonder is about how each of us have our differences and the ways we might choose to be kind instead of cruel and worry a little less about what ‘everyone’ else is thinking. Auggie is one of those great characters that you wish existed in the real world so you could hang out together.

Who will like this book?: It’s hard to think of anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this story. It’s something to be shared with everyone in the family.

If you like this, try this: My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Every Other Day

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Title: Every Other Day

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Summary:  Every second day Kali is just your average 16-year-old girl, who reluctantly transferred halfway through first semester junior year from a gifted high school program run by her father’s university to public school.  She has no friends,  a mother who disappeared when she was just a kid, and an absentee father who doesn’t seem to understand her at all.

But every other day she is something else entirely.  She is confident and beyond strong.   And, on those days she is not human.  She is the thing that hunts and kills supernatural creatures that would do harm to the human race and she is practically indestructible.   Kali doesn’t know what she is on those days, but she knows there is no denying her need to hunt and destroy evil.

One day, Kali notices a demon mark on the back of the most popular girl at school.  A mark that means she will be dead within 24 hours.  Unfortunately,  it is on a day when Kali is simply a human.  Without the benefit of super strength or extraordinary healing powers Kali decides to try to save this girl.  It’s a decision that will change everything.  It will create friendships, threaten family relationships, endanger lives, and change the hunter within Kali.

Who will like this book?:  If you like strong-willed, tough female main characters in paranormal settings this is the book for you.

If you like this, try this: Strange Angels series by Lili St. Crow, Paranormalcy by Kiersten White, Raised by Wolves and Tattoo by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to be Your Class President

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Title: I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I want to be your Class President

Author: Josh Lieb

Summary:  Can you imagine what it must be like to be the third richest person in the world?  Oliver Watson owns land in all fifty states and most of the capitalist countries in the world.  He owns investment banks, baseball teams, mines, plantations, a movie studio, two television networks, and three newspaper syndicates.   He is powerful enough to instigate the overthrow of a dictator of an African nation for personal reasons having nothing to do with setting the world right. 

Oliver Watson is exactly what the title of this book states – an evil genius – he is also a seventh grade middle school student.  He has used his intelligence to create a fortune.  He’s also used that same intelligence and fortune to rig his middle school up to cater to his every desire from a secret root beer dispensing button on the water fountain and a heated bus seat to the development of a secret chemical, Lazopril.   When released on a person Lazopril saps all hostility from them and gives them sudden intense flatulence.  Oliver even has three secret bodyguards within the school, so secret, in fact, that even Oliver isn’t sure of their exact identities.  

You may wonder the reason behind the necessity of Lazopril and bodyguards.  Why would anyone tease or bully the biggest evil genius in the world?  That question is best answered by looking to Oliver’s assumed alter ego, the dumbest kid in the whole school.  Oliver’s act is so perfect that it is going to take some work to get him elected as the 8th grade class president.  Why does the greatest evil genius in the world want to be class president?  For that answer you will have to read the book.

Who will like this?:  Anyone who has a bit of a wicked sense of humor  and those who are ready to graduate from the Diary of the Wimpy Kid series.  Oliver has the same air of superiority coupled with a dose of condescension for his peers, but unlike Greg Heffley. Oliver actually has the brains to back it up. 

If you like this, try this: Evil Genius series by Catherine Jinks,  N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society series by Michael Buckley, and H.I.V.E. : Higher Institute of Villainous Education series by Mark Walden

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian