Friday, June 29, 2012

The Only Ones by Aaron Starmer YP FIC STARMER

They were the only ones left.  No, but before that.  Before that it was just Martin, Dad, and the machine that hums.  Occasionally tourists came by.  Then they didn’t. Then Dad left.  Finally Martin realizes, he might not come back.  He leaves the island and realizes there’s a whole new world out there.  Unfortunately, it’s empty. Empty, except for a city of kids that are each exceptionally good at one thing.  They could build a paradise, destroy what’s left of humanity, or if the strange boy that talks to the animals is right, then the machine can bring everyone back. 
This is not another dystopia!  I know, I know.  The world has seemingly ended and almost everyone has vanished, but it still isn’t an apocalyptic dystopia. It’s a FABLE. It uses the fantastic to look at issues that are very real: alienation, love, devotion, grief, obsession, humanity’s meaning, civilization’s role, etc.  The best part is that it doesn’t ‘talk’ about issues, it uses that characters and plot to bring it out.  The book is really a mystery above all.  The plot just slowly goes forward, propelled by its unusual protagonist, Martin.  Since Martin knows so little about the world, the fact that it’s all but gone isn’t that terrible to him and that makes this NOT the usual dystopia.  Martin is kind of curious and aimless at the same time, so the plot seems to sort of zig-zag and putter along and you’ll often wonder, “What is this book even ABOUT!?”  Exactly.  That IS what the book is about.  Figuring out what the book is about.  If that seems like a snake eating its own tale…good! This book is about twisting your brain up and getting it all wrinkled.  It is about abandonment, a city of dangerously gifted children faith versus knowledge, time travel, and everything in between.  No one is truly the good or bad guys and you’ll often wonder if anyone will do the Right Thing.  Then you’ll wonder what the Right Thing is.  Then you’ll get a headache.  BUT if you read on and soldier through, you’ll meet loads of interesting characters, see a bizarre parody of human civilization through the eyes of kids, and be rewarded with a mind-twisting ending that pays off all your questions but doesn’t GIVE you the answers.  Unlike most mystery novels, this really is a puzzle and you’ll be very glad when you ‘solve’ it.  Not for everyone and quite unusual, The Only Ones is a rare treat for anyone that is a bit unusual themselves.  

You can check our catalog for The Only Ones here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Disenchantments by Nina Lacour YP FIC LACOUR

Colby has it all figured out, has had the same plan for years: tour with his best friend Bev’s terrible awesome band for their senior summer and then backpack through Europe together. Bev changes everything when she announces that instead she is going to start college in the fall and all his dreams are shattered and get used to it.  Now Colby begins the last summer of freedom on a heartbreaking, life changing road trip.
Like Everything You need to Survive the Apocalypse, (which I just reviewed) this is a definite ‘have a hanky handy’ read.  The cover tricks you with light-happy-summertime image that makes you think this will be a fun summer romp. No.  Suuuuure, there’s loads of fun in this book, but it’s also a very genuine and real look at first love and first heartbreak and why you will almost always have to abandon certain dreams to grow up.  The characters feel like real people and have their own drives and backgrounds beyond what they mean to Colby.  This makes the book come alive and lets different readers take different things form the book, because different readers will likely identify with different characters.  Heck, I identified with different characters at the end of the book than for the middle or the beginning.  This is one of these great coming-of-age, love-and-loss books like The Big Crunch (YP FIC HAUTMAN) or How to Say Goodbye in Robot (YP FIC STANDIFOR)that I’ve reviewed previously.  It didn’t move me or grab me quite as much as LaCour’s first novel Hold Still. This one is certainly just as good, so some readers will probably even like it better.  DEFINITELY read both.  LaCour is definitely shaping up to be one of the best new voices in realistic fiction for young adults. 

You can check our catalog for The Disenchantments here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Code Orange by Caroline Cooney YP FIC COONEY A Teen Review by Enriko

And now for something brand spanking new: A review from an ACTUAL Moore Teen. This entry is written by our Teen Volunteer, Enriko. Take it away, Enriko!

Mitty is a common slacker living in New York City.  He was assigned a project for his biology class to study any infectious disease.  Mitty finds an old book about the extinguished disease smallpox and decides to learn more about it.  He makes contact in the book with a hundred-year-old scab.  Now he’s not only scared that he’s infected, but that he could start a global epidemic.

This book is one of the best books I’ve ever read.  It makes you stay up at night and sleep with the book on your hand, waiting to read the next chapter as soon as you wake up. This book is very well put together.  Unlike some books I’ve read, you can read every chapter ina stable pace without having re-read lots of sentences. The book feels so real, that you can believe that it’s something that happened in the recent past and that it was based on a real life event. To me, this was an action, love, mystery, and suspense book changing with each chapter. You might think you know what’s going to happen next, but then the opposite or something you never suspect happens.  It made me want to read moment to moment until the book ended. Cooney did an excellent job on this one, but I would have preferred an epilogue.  You’ll definitely be glad you read this one.

Thanks for the great review, Enriko!

You can check our catalog for Code Orange here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver YP FIC OLIVER

In a future where love is a disease Lena risked everything to FEEL something.  Then she lost everything.  She’s learned the price of love and run away from everything she has ever known.  She’s buried her old self and all her feelings.  Now she has a mission, but Lena is about to learn that you can’t bury yourself or your feelings and they’ll surprise ypu when you least expect it.

This is sort of funny.  I have the exact opposite problem with Pandemonium as I did with Delirium. In my review of Delirium I mentioned that it took too long to get started, the middle dragged, and that is picked up steam and the ending was powerful and surprising.  This book is much better in every respect, except for the ending.  I can’t get into details without spoiling it, but it just felt like they wanted a big surprise to go into the third novel.  So if you loved Delirium you may not love Pandemonium, but if you were lukewarm on Delirium, then you may quite like Pandemonium. I know, confusing. The novel splits into ‘now’ and ‘then’ segments. ‘Then’ is right after the end of the first book and tells us how Lena coped and got to ‘now’, where she is on her secret mission to subvert the Evil Government that Hates Love.  The back and forth works well to build tension and it drew me in.  Oliver, as usual, writes excellent prose, with great descriptions and dialogue.  I just still two books in wonder if dystopia was the best idea.  There are 332,862 dystopias published every month (give or take), so the Delirium trilogy seems to have way too much competition.  Again, I think this is a very good, but not great book in what is turning out to be a well written, interesting, and flawed series. This is definitely one of the better dystopia series and if you aren’t so tired of them that you are actually wishing the world would end, then give this series a shot.  Regardless, definitely read Oliver’s first book Before I Fall (I reviewed it here).  It’s absolutely excellent and truly unique.

You can check our catalog for Pandemonium here.

Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse by Lucas Klauss YP FIC KLAUSS

Phillip is a sort-of atheist (maybe) falling for an evangelical Christian named Rebekah. That’s a problem. His dad is a DEFINITELY atheist; and the fact that his mom decided she believed in God and turned their basement into an Apocalypse shelter right before she DIED makes the whole ‘religion thing’ an atomic bomb.  So starts a funny, sad, honest look at friendship, love, faith, doubt, and all the other things that will help you survive an apocalypse. 

I picked this one up because the cover is unique, but was worried.  NOT ANOTHER APOCALYPSE BOOK!!! Fortunately, the apocalypse is just symbolic and emotional! This isn’t dystopia, it’s (really good) contemporary fiction.  Contemporary fiction (books set in the present where there are no robots, dystopias, ghosts, vampires, zombies, etc.) are a tough thing to make work, because you can’t use the fantastical to bring interest. What works best about this book is that all the major characters feel flawed, real, and relatable.  They don’t just represent an idea the author wants to examine or a character ‘type’ to move the plot forward. The characters are funny, but without seeming like professional comedy writers in teenage bodies.  I loved Phillip and Rebekah and really found myself rooting for them, even when it was obvious that they both have real issues.  The most impressive thing is this book is able to look at faith and religion in a very funny but open-minded way.  They do poke fun at the excesses of the sub-culture that is evangelical life, but they also show that is has plenty of good people in it who aren’t crazy or mean in any way.  So pick this up and you’ll laugh, cry, learn about the importance of letting go whilst simultaneously holding on, and find out how to survive symbolic apocalypses. 

You can check our catalog for Everything You Need to Survive the Apocalypse here

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Kill You Last by Todd Strasser YP FIC STRASSER

Shelby’s world gets turned upside down and inside out when three girls disappear and the only thing linking them is that they were all photographed at her dad’s studio. Then there’s the cryptic emails claiming that her father has dark secrets.  As the whole town begins turning on her father, Shelby decides she has to help solve the mystery herself, but she may not like what she finds and she may not live to tell anyone about it.

This is the third part of Strasser’s (and I apologize for the pun) Thrillogy.  I reviewed and enjoyed Blood on My Hands and Wish You Were Dead.  All three have different main characters, so you can read them in any order.  This one has a really solid mystery and plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing.  I like the use of technology in the stories and the way Strasser makes the teens sleuthing somewhat believable and realistic.  Kill You Last has some added creepiness, because Shelby discovers that a lot of people around her are pretty darn scuzzy.  This is a great, creepy, don’t-want-to-put-it-down-until-you-find-out-who-the-killer-is book.  If you want something fast, fun, and exciting, then you have your beach reading material right here.

Check our catalog for Kill You Last here.