Code Name Verity

Title: Code Name Verity

Author: Elizabeth Wein

Summary:  Set in World War II, this story tells the tale of two young women and their harrowing experiences serving their country.  Verity is a secret agent captured by the Gestapo after parachuting into Nazi-occupied France.  She is given two options by her captors: reveal everything she knows about England’s defenses and her mission or face torture and an excruciating death.  Verity believes she will die regardless of her decision, so what she must come to terms with is how much she is willing to reveal.  Given paper and ink, she is tasked with betraying her country, yet what she puts down is so much more.  In her writings, she tells the story of her captivity, her past life and how she became friends with Maddie, the pilot, who flew her into France and subsequently crashed.  Her story is a tribute to friendship, a test of courage, and revealing look at how it feels to face the possibility of one’s own failings.

Who will like this book:  Fans of historical fiction and strong female characters will love this emotionally charged story.  That being said, this is really a book for anyone who appreciates a good story with amazing characters.  Code Name Verity is a book you regretfully close after finishing and recommend to all your friends the next day.

If you like this, try thisThe Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow, Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

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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

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

The Maze Runner

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Title: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Summary:  Thomas doesn’t remember his parents, his friends, or anything from his past life.  He doesn’t even know how he got in the elevator that is climbing to a place like no other, a place the inhabitants a group of about 60 teenage boys call the Glade.  Once he is pulled from the dark box, Thomas begins to learn about his new home and its occupants the Gladers.  The Gladers suffer from the same memory loss as Thomas and arrived in the same manner.  They live together in the Glade, a large town surrounded by walls that are hundreds of feet high.  The walls form a perfect square around them and each side has the same split opening.  Outside the walls, there is a maze that moves every night. It’s populated with deadly monsters the Gladers call Grievers, but they only come out at night. Fortunately, every night the walls close up protecting the boys. 

Inside the Glade everyone has a job.  Some boys cook, some grow food, some butcher animals, while others tend the sick, but the job Thomas is most interested in is being a runner.  Every day runners venture out into the maze and run through its ever-changing paths memorizing the changes as they go.  Before the walls close, each runner must make it back to the glades and sketch out the new pattern of the walls.  The job of a runner is dangerous but vital because the Gladers believe that the answer to escaping the Glade lies somewhere out in the maze. 
 
The Gladers have had a pretty routine life with the walls opening every morning and closing every night.  They have come to expect that every 30 days a new boy will be delivered in the elevator.  However, the day after Thomas arrives the routine is dramatically broken.  The elevator arrives with a girl.  Before passing out, she delivers the ominous message “Everything is going to change.” With her arrival, Thomas begins to feel different.  Something tells him that he and the girl can somehow provide the solution to the maze.  A solution that Thomas will have to go to great and dangerous lengths to retrieve from his memory. 

Who will like this?:  Fans of dystopian fiction will fly through this tense thriller.

If you like this, try this:  The follow-up to this book, The Scorch Trials. The City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau. Incarceron by Catherine Fisher.

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

Between Shades of Gray

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Title: Between Shades of Gray

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Summary: Lina is a talented artist planning on attending an art academy over her summer holiday. Her happy and peaceful life is shattered on a quiet night in June, 1939, when she, her brother and mother are forced from their home and crammed with dozens of others first onto a truck, then a train, with no idea where they are headed. Lina’s father, a college professor, is considered anti-Soviet, and so like thousands of others the Vilkas family has been deported and sent to labor camps in Siberia, under the brutal regime of Stalin.

With little more than the clothes on their back, Lina and her family, separated from their father and everyone they know, will have to be resilient and resourceful in the face of unimaginable danger, brutality and inhumane living conditions.  Bravery and dedication to each other can only take the Vilkases so far in their bleak new life. This powerful story, based on little-known historical events will shock and sadden you, but like Lina’s artwork, you will also find strength, hope, and even beauty as well.

Who will like this book: Anyone interested in ‘secret’ histories that aren’t very well-known. Budding artists. People who like intense, dramatic stories.

If you like this, try this: Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt. The Road of Bones by Ann Fine. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Compound

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Title: The Compound

Author: S.A. Bodeen

Summary:  Six years ago, during a suspected nuclear attack, Eli and his family made a mad dash for the their underground Compound.  Unfortunately, Eli’s twin brother and Grandmother didn’t make it before the door was sealed with a lock that isn’t set to open for another fifteen years.  Eli now exists in the compound that was planned and stocked by his brilliant, billionaire father, but no amount of planning can eliminate the dull routine his life has become or the all-consuming guilt he feels over leaving his twin.  As food begins to run in short supply, Eli begins to question some of his father’s actions and realizes that he must take responsibility for his family if they are to survive the Compound. 

Who will like this book?:  Any reader who is able to suspend doubt in the far-fetched premise will eagerly fly through this suspenseful fast-paced story. 

If you like this, try this: The Maze Runner by James Dashner, Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer, and Gone by Michael Grant.

Recommended by:  Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

Trapped

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Title: Trapped

Author: Michael Northrop

Summary: Scotty might be the only kid in school not thrilled when school is closed early because of snow: The first big game of the basketball season is later in the week, and he needs all the practice time he can get if he wants to start as a sophomore. He agrees to stick around to help his friends with a project for shop class, and when they finally leave, there are only 7  kids and one teacher left in the whole school. And almost two feet of snow on the ground.

What Scotty and his classmates don’t realize is that this is no ordinary Nor’Easter. The snow and ice won’t fall for hours: They will fall for days.  This is one of those great adventure novels that builds in intensity as you turn the pages, and what makes it even more readable is that it takes place in the most ordinary of settings: A school building. As the teens face a surprisingly sudden life-or-death situation, some will have what it takes to survive and some won’t. One of the best ‘what would you do’ stories in a very long time.

Who will like this book?: Readers who like stories about average people in life-or-death survival situations. Anyone who has ever wondered what it would be like in a school with all the lights turned out (and/or, past Mystery Night participants, who know what the library is like in the dark…)

If you like this, try this: Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. What Happened to Cass McBride by Gail Giles. For younger readers, Storm Mountain by Cat Birdsall.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian