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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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