Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Unidentified by Rae Mariz YP FIC MARIZ

In the not too very distant future Katey AKA Kid goes to school in the Game, a mall turned into a school by corporate sponsors. Basically a real world Facebook, kids are used to create and test new products and everyone is connected, networked, and watched 24/7, but don’t worry as Kid says herself, “We like the attention.” But when a corporate sponsor ‘brands’ Kid and she meets a group of social outcasts called the Unidentified, she starts to question if her identity is for sale. When she starts to get more involved with the Unidentified and their mysterious leader she puts herself in the middle of a conflict larger than she ever dreamed.

This is a SPOT ON look at the obsession with virtual connectedness, the obsession with fitting in, and consumer culture. Anyone that has spent hours at a time on Facebook or MySpace while texting friends at the same time should be truly freaked by this book. The plot has plenty of twists and suspense, but the real draw is the bizarre world of the Game and the ways it resembles our current tech and brand obsession, but this book isn’t technology phobic. Kid and her friends use technology themselves to express themselves and find ways to get back at the Game. this is Mariz’s first book for teens, but hopefully we’ll see many more. The Unidentified is a rare book that can look at problems with society AND have realistic human characters that the reader cares about. Check it out, then ‘Like’ it on Facebook, tweet about it, and text all your friends about how cool it is!

Violence 101 by Denis Wright YP FIC WRIGHT

Violence is the best solution to every problem! At least, that’s what 14 year old Hamish Graham believes. That’s also why Hamish ahs just made the Manukau New Horizons Boys' Institute his new home. Told mainly through the diary of Hamish with the occasional report by adults that watch Hamish, this is a dark look at a brilliant and troubled mind and the very nature of violence itself.

Violence 101 is dark with a capital D, but I liked it anyways. Hamish is a great narrator, because he carefully explains his logical reasons for his violent actions. This is a realistic look at a young teen that has the makings of a sociopathic serial killer. His cunning and logic is really creepy, because sometimes he almost makes a weird sort of sense. There is a good deal of suspense especially in the later chapters. I found some of the later chapters’ action and heroics a little farfetched, but by that point I liked the characters enough that it didn’t ruin anything for me. I liked that Hamish doesn’t have any miraculous changes and the changes he does have make sense. If you like realistic fiction about troubled minds then take a look at Violence 101.

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney YP FIC WHITNEY

After a party Alex wakes up naked in a room she doesn’t recognize. She doesn’t remember anything that happened the night before, but she knows she had sex. Once her friends make her realize that it is rape to have sex with an unconscious person she decides to push for justice, but Alex goes to Themis Academy. Themis is supposed to be for the best and brightest and she doesn’t believe the cops will help, so she learns about the Mockingbirds, a secret school court (inspired by the book To Kill a Mockingbird) that judges other students and hands out punishments. Will Alex find justice, and what would she do with it if she got it?

This is a really tricky book. A lot of readers may not like it, because the issue of date rape is such an emotional one. I won’t spoil the ending, but it certainly won’t satisfy some readers. This is a very intelligent look at the consequences of rape and the meaning of justice, but I’m still not sure if I agree with the novel’s idea of justice. I think the fact that Alex doesn’t tell anybody but other students is unfortunate, but unfortunately that is a realistic reaction to date rape. This novel doesn’t read like just a moral lesson. The Mockingbirds work through secrecy and their odd methods (also inspired by To Kill a Mockingbird) keep the book interesting. A new romance that Alex develops is also well developed. I liked that Alex is able to experience and appreciate joy and start to move past what happened to her. It shows that she is more than just a victim. All in all, this is a wonderful read for fans of realistic fiction that like to think. I can guarantee this book will make everyone that reads it think long and hard about the characters, the ending, and justice.

Monday, January 24, 2011

YALSA announces best fiction of 2010

YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) has put together a list of the absolutely best fiction books from the year 2010(it seems like just yesterday!). So if you are looking for something GREAT to read or new authors to obsess over, then you should check out the list and then check out the book from our library! Here, I’ll get you started with the top ten best books according to YALSA and their library call numbers (you’re welcome!):

Bacigalupi, Paolo. Ship Breaker.
Nailer is a light crew scavenger tearing up old hulks of ships, living day to day, until a rich girl and her gleaming ship run ashore in a storm on the beach and his life gets more dangerous. Call Number: YP FIC BACIGALU

Donnelley, Jennifer. Revolution.

Haunted by the death of her brother, Andi is taken to Paris by her estranged father where an encounter with a mysterious diary may bring her back from the edge. Call Number: YP FIC DONNELLEY

Marchetta, Melina. Finnikin of the Rock.
Finnikin and his fellow exiles from Lumatere wish to return to their cursed homeland. Finnikin must go on an epic journey with a mute novice named Evanjalin to return home. Call Number: YP FIC MARCHETT

Matson, Morgan. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour.2010.
Amy and Roger must both learn to deal with loss while on a road trip across the country which doesn't go as expected. Call Number: YP FIC MATSON

McBride, Lish. Hold Me Closer, Necromancer.

When Sam discovers he is a necromancer he must learn to control his power in order to defeat a powerful and corrupt rival and save his friends. Call Number: YP FIC MCBRIDE

Mulligan, Andy. Trash.

Three garbage-picker boys find an item of great value to a corrupt politician on their rounds, setting off a tense hunt to see who will triumph. Call Number: YP FIC MULLIGAN

Perkins, Mitali. Bamboo People.
Chiko, a Burmese soldier and Tu Reh, a Kerenni refugee meet on opposite sides of war and each must learn what it means to be a man of his people. Call Number: J FIC PERKINS

Reinhardt, Dana. The Things a Brother Knows.

Boaz is back and hailed as the hometown hero, but he is not at all the same. Can his younger brother Levi help him truly make his way home? Call Number: YP FIC REINHARD

Saenz, Benjamin. Last Night I Sang to the Monster.

Weeks in therapy go by and 18-year-old Zach is still unable to remember the monstrous events that left him alone and haunted by nightmares. Call Number: YP FIC SAENZ

Sedgwick, Marcus. Revolver.
Sig is alone with his father’s body when the lawless man his father had managed to escape appears out of the icy wilderness. Call Number: YP FIC SEDGWICK

And just click on this link to go to the full list of best fiction books: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/yalsa/booklistsawards/bestficya/bfya2011.cfm

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah YP FIC ABDELFAT

Hayaat is a 13 year old Palestinian girl marked by war, with scars on her body and her heart. Now she has to face her fears and haunted memories to take a perilous quest in her hope to save her dying grandma. Hayaat believes that a handful of dirt for her grandma’s home town in Israel will save her, but Hayaat is trapped in the West Bank, the contest land of Palestine and Israel and cannot cross the checkpoints to make it there. Hayaat and her trouble making best friend Samy try the impossible to cross a border and save a life.

This is a beautiful story of love, friendship, and family torn apart but not destroyed by conflict. Abdel-Fattah does an amazing job at looking at the Israel-Palestine conflict without demonizing either side, but without lying about the ugly reality of the conflict. Hayaat and Samy are very believable and likable characters that face horror without losing hope and their own sense of right and wrong. For such a difficult subject, the book actually has a lot of humor and light touches. It really shows how humans can survive and maintain an innate goodness in the worst of times. If you are at all interested in learning about one of the most important conflicts in our world today (and for the past 50 years), this is a great way to see world events on a human level.