Boxers & Saints

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Title: Boxers & Saints

Author/Illustrator: Gene Luen Yang

Summary: In this stunning masterwork, Gene Luen Yang tells an epic story across two books about young people facing the devastating consequences of war in 18th century China. Little Bao and Vibiana both live in the idyllic but impoverished rural countryside with families that are facing challenges. Soon, inspired and driven by the hidden magic surrounding them (Bao by the god-kings of Chinese mythology and Vibiana by the legend of Joan of Arc), they each embark on a journey through the rapidly-changing world around them, finding themselves as they endure the upheaval, war and devastation that comes when people with different points of view cannot coexist peacefully. When their paths finally cross, neither will be the same.

It probably doesn’t matter in which order you read these dual narratives, but I’d suggest you start with Boxers. You might not learn too much about this famous colonial-era Rebellion in your history classes, but this story will immerse you in the violent and bloody struggle between those who wished to reject foreign influence in China and others who welcomed it. You will  be moved by both of these young people as they find themselves leading their people towards an unthinkable destiny, each believing they are right.

Who will like this book: Graphic n0vel readers. Fans of historical fiction and stories laced with magic and spirituality.

If you like this, try this: Yang’s Printz-winning work, American Born Chinese. Another fantastic graphic novel with a supernatural element, Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brogsol.For another era in Chinese history, take a look at Revolution is not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine. For more on the history of this era, read The Boxer Rebellion by Diana Preston.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

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Carry On

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Title: Carry On: The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Summary: Orphan Simon Snow is the chosen one – born into the World of Mages to triumph over the Insidious Humdrum, a dark entity that swallows magic whole, leaving devastation and ruin in its path. The problem is that Simon barely understands his power and has almost no control over it. Entering his final year at Watford School of Magicks, he finds himself the focus of an inevitable battle, tutored by a strict and mysterious headmaster, bolstered by support from his best friend, the supremely talented and brilliant Penelope, confounded by his on-again, off-again girlfriend Agatha and tormented by his roommate and nemesis, Basilton, a rich kid from a legendary magickal family.

This sounds…familiar, right? It is supposed to – the story of Simon Snow was introduced to readers of author Rainbow Rowell’s popular book Fangirl, about a college freshman who is also an internet-famous author of slash fiction. But you don’t have to read Fangirl first to fall in love with Simon Snow. As he makes his way through his final year at Watford, he comes face to face with the true nature of the Humdrum, the true motives of his teacher, the mysterious nature of his origin and his true feelings for Baz. This fast-paced and funny fantasy tale is perfect for readers who grew up with The Boy Who Shall Not Be Named (in this post, at least) who are looking for a book with the same sense of emotion and adventure.

 

Who will like this book?: This is the ‘Drarry’ book you’ve been waiting for, shippers!Potterheads. Fan Fic (particularly Slash Fic) devotees. Readers who love coming-of-age adventure stories.

If you like this, try this: The book that inspired this story, Fangirl, also by Rainbow Rowell. For a darker take on fandom, try Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky. Another magical quest/school story with a high page count, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. We don’t need to recommend J.K. Rowling’s stuff, right?

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Nimona

nimona

Title: Nimona

Author/Illustrator: Noelle Stevenson

Summary: Nimona is brave, snarky, wild and bad to the bone. She has the ability to shapeshift into any living form and she plans to use her mysterious skills to aid ex-knight and mad scientist Lord Ballister Blackheart, a supervillain, wreak havoc on the world. Skeptical of his new sidekick at first, Blackheart soon realizes that despite her temper and her refusal to always listen to his rules, Nimona will make a sterling ally in his war against the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics, which is led by his archnemesis and former schoolmate Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. As Nimona and Blackheart delve deeper into the real schemes being launched by the mysterious Institution, friendships and lives are gained and lost and tragedies occur.

This is a very special graphic novel. While the action takes place in a strange world that feels a bit like fantasy and a bit like today, and the action can be intense, it really is a story about friendship. Nimona is at times breezy, riotously funny and sometimes achingly sad. Most impressively, it manages to be all of these things at the same time. As you read the story, the connections between the characters grow deeper and you might just find yourself changing your mind about who should win out in the end. The final pages are simply stunning, with an ending that will surprise and delight you. I cannot recommend this book enough.

Who will like this book?: Everybody. Seriously.

If you like this, try this: The ongoing story of another witty, super-powered young girl, the Ms. Marvel series by G. Willow Wilson. Another story about shapeshifters, Talon by Julie Kagawa. Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman.

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

I Am Princess X

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Title: I Am Princess X

Author: Cherie Priest

Summary: You wouldn’t think two people as different as Libby and May would be friends. But the Seattle teens bond over Princess X, with Libby creating the art and May writing the script for a sprawling fantasy epic. When Libby and her mom die in a tragic accident, May’s world is shattered. Not only did she lose her best friend, her parents split up and she has to relocate with her mom. And perhaps worst of all, Libby’s dad threw away every scrap of paper with Princess X on it in his grief. Now May is completely, devastatingly alone. Three years later, May has adjusted to her new circumstances, but has never stopped having dreams about Libby surviving the accident. While visiting her dad back in Seattle, she sees something impossible: Princess X, on stickers, patches, skateboards and graffiti all over the city. This leads May to begin to believe the impossible: Libby has to be alive.

This tense and masterful mystery by noted adult science fiction author Cherie Priest is a great choice for most readers. Dynamic illustrations from Kali Ciesemier bring the Princess X story to life. You can’t help but root for May and her allies as she fights for what she believes in her heart to be true. It is a fast-paced story about the power of friendship that should be at the top of everyone’s reading list.

Who will like this book?: Fans of friendship stories and mysteries. People who like graphic novels and webcomics. Anyone who believes in the impossible.

If you like this, try this: Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge. If you really liked Jackdaw, try The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

In Real Life

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TitleIn Real Life

Author: Cory Doctorow

Illustrator: Jen Wang

Summary: Anda is shy in real life, but online she is a kick-butt character in the massively-multiplayer role-playing game Coarsegold Online where she has begun to make friends with other players. The line between what is right and wrong starts to blur when she befriends a gold farmer who collects valuable objects in game to sell for money out of the game.

Who will like this book?: Fans of characters with strong morals. Graphic novel readers, and online game players.

If you like this, try this: Ms. Marvel Vol. 1, No Normal  by G Willow Wilson,illustrated by Adrian Alphona.  Page by Paige by Laura Gulledge. The Eye of Minds by James Dashner.

Recommended by: Stephanie, Librarian

Fables

     Fables Vol. 20: Camelot

Title: Fables

Author: Bill Willingham

Illustrators: Mark Buckingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha and more

Summary: First printed in 2002, the comic series Fables has endured, becoming one of the most beloved continuing series in recent memory. Forced out of their familiar Homelands by a dark and deadly figure known only as the “Adversary,” the legendary characters of myth and tall tales made their way to our world to establish Fabletown, where, as immortals, they have lived and thrived into our modern age. But the people you meet on these pages bear little resemblance to your favorite cartoon royals and monsters. When Jack (of Beanstalk fame) rushes to tell Bigby Wolf, sheriff of Fabletown that his girlfriend, Rose Red has disappeared and their apartment is covered in blood, an investigation into a possible murder begins. Following Bigby’s every move is Snow White, Rose’s sister and deputy mayor of Fabletown.

Over the course of its 12 year run (collected into 20 volumes so far), Willingham weaves in both beloved figures from the most popular fairy tales to obscure characters you may have never heard of. The nature of the story also changes, from murder mystery to domestic drama to epic quest. This is a great story to curl up in, because the twists and surprises will keep you turning pages, and some will even break your heart. With the end of the story coming soon (in early 2015,) this is the perfect time to start Fables at the beginning.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who like ‘fractured’ fairy tales – new spins on familiar stories. TV watchers looking for something a bit grittier than Once Upon a Time. Fans of ongoing graphic novel series such as The Walking Dead.

If you like this, try this: Into the Wild and Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. The series The Unwritten by Mike Carey. And if you can’t get enough of the Fables world, read the prequel, 1001 Nights of Snowfall.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian