Tag Archives: young adult

I Absolutely Didn’t Hate The Haters

After my soapbox-declaring love for Jesse Andrews’ debut novel Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, let’s just say I was eagerly awaiting his followup, The Haters.

Best friends Wes and Corey love hating on everything, even the stuff they love. When we find them at the novel’s beginning at a super-competitive jazz camp filled with really intense campers they start hating on it immediately. But, as the great philosopher Swift once said, “haters gonna hate” and Wes and Corey find a likeminded hater in Ash, seemingly the only girl at camp. After bonding over their mutual hateship, the trio ditch camp, form their own band and go on tour, which turns out exactly like you’d expect a tour planned by pre-college teenagers to turn out.

bookcoverMe and Earl and the Dying Girl was a fairly mature young adult novel, what with (spoiler alert) one of the title characters (spoiler alert) dying from (spoiler alert) cancer, but with The Haters Andrews has doubled-down on the young adult experience, including all the ridiculosity and awkwardness that comes with it. Not to give too much away, it’s a much less sad book, but no less realistic. From Corey defying his parents for the first time to Wes’ first time having sex—in a scene that so closely resembles my own first time that I’m half-convinced Andrews was hiding in my closet—The Haters will undoubtedly have something in it to which you can relate, and it rewarded my eager anticipation in spades.

Similar to Wes and Corey, I was in jazz and concert band in high school, but I didn’t hate on it. As my classmates listened to the whispers of the Ying Yang Twins, Kelly Clarkson‘s complain about her career in optometry and the Black Eyed Peas sing about camels, I was plugged into my portable CD player (remember those?) listening for countermelodies, harmonies and other musical flourishes on the first CD I ever bought—the Jurassic Park soundtrack. Yes, I was that band geek.

Maybe it’s cliché to describe writing like this as “real,” but I can think of no better term. Andrews imbues his characters with a penchant for self-deprecation and I absolutely love that, mostly because I’m the mayor of self-deprecating humor. If you ever see me on the street, ask me to tell you about my one pickup line that involves me carrying a microscope around a bar. My friends get a kick out of it. Anyway, when Andrews uses this humor it adds a natural level of realism to his writing and it makes the characters feel like friends I haven’t met yet. I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent in the world of The Haters and couldn’t stop myself from reading, even though I dreaded what I’d do with my life when I finished. I considered being an alpaca farmer a few times.

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“When I leave, alpaca this book.”
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While Andrews obviously excels at capturing teen angst and awkwardness, I’d love to see him branch out to more adult novels. I’m not asking for Fifty Shades of Grey written by Jesse Andrews (but now that I’ve typed those words I want nothing more), but I’m eager to see him tackle a different genre. For example, Matthew Quick maintains his style in both adult and young adult books, and although I’ve never read anything by James Patterson, I’m pretty sure he’s written books for every reading audience. He even wrote a book for zoo animals.

Wes, Corey and Ash might not be the most likeable characters in the beginning, but that could be the point. Do you remember what you were like as a teenager? Besides a lot more acne, you probably weren’t the pleasant bouquet of posies you are today. You most likely changed, as does our trio. Likewise, your opinion of them may change. No matter what flaws readers may perceive in The Haters, I’ll definitely be in line for whatever Andrews writes next. He wrote the screenplay for the movie version of Me and Earl and the Dying Girlwhich I also loved—so maybe an film adaption of The Haters is right around the corner …

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Shredfest!
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Part Scott Pilgrim with shades of a Monty Python sketch plus a lot of heart,  you’ll be hard-pressed to find a reason to hate on The Haters.

–Ross

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We all have flaws

I just recently finished a book called Flawed by Cecelia Ahern. According to the book jacket, Ahern is the author of P.S. I Love You & Love, Rosie, and they were both made into films. This is Ahern’s first young adult novel. The book’s cover is what garnered my attention. It’s very simple, but the big F and a circle around it is hard to miss.

bookcoverThe novel’s protagonist is Celestine North, and she’s the quintessential perfect teenage girl. She gets good grades, has good looks, is polite and never gets in trouble. She also has the perfect relationship with her boyfriend, Art. Celestine lives in a society where everyone is supposed to be perfect. If you do something morally or ethically wrong, then you are deemed Flawed. They have to go to trial, which is run by an organization called the Guild, lead by Art’s father, Judge Crevan. After you’re deemed Flawed, you get branded. There are 5 places on your body where you can be branded:  your temple, the palm of your hand, your foot, your chest and your tongue.

Things are going great in Celestine’s life until their neighbor and Celestine’s piano teacher, Angelina Tinder, is accused of being Flawed and taken into custody. Angelina is later deemed Flawed. Celestine starts to question the system because she’s known Angelina practically her whole life and never saw a Flawed quality in her.

One day Celestine, Art and Celestine’s sister, Juniper, are on the bus on their way home from school. To give some background, on the bus there’s a special section of seats on the front of the bus for the Flawed and all of the other seats are for everyone else. This bus ride will change Celestine’s life forever. Anyway, two ladies who aren’t Flawed are sitting in the Flawed seats having a conversation, one of whom has a broken leg. A Flawed elderly man gets on the bus and he can’t sit down because of the ladies sitting in the Flawed seats. Suddenly, the man starts to have a coughing fit. Celestine sees what’s going on and has to decide whether she is going to help the man or not because if she helps him that’s considered aiding a Flawed and that’s against the law.

So, Celestine decides to ask the ladies to move so the old man can sit down. They refuse and act like the old man doesn’t even exist. Celestine helps the man into a seat and then is taken into custody. Judge Crevan wants Celestine to lie and say that she didn’t help the old man. If she does this, she would only serve two years in prison. Otherwise she will be deemed Flawed.

Initially, she does lie, but in the end she tells the truth, much to the anger of Judge Crevan. He makes her get 5 brands, the most ever. Crevan is so angry that he ends up secretly putting a 6th brand on Celestine’s spine. If anyone finds out that he did this, Crevan would be ruined. He’s so desperate to maintain his power that he’s prepared to do anything to keep it a secret.

The experience drastically changes Celestine. Now on the other side of society, people look at her differently. Juniper is afraid that Celestine is angry with her because she doesn’t speak up for her. Celestine’s relationship with Art is pretty much over because Judge Crevan doesn’t want her anywhere near his son. She is ostracized at school because she’s the only Flawed student, and some teachers even refuse to teach her.

Here’s an interview with Cecila Ahern talking about what her inspiration was to write Flawed.

There were some quotes in the novel that struck me. One was when Celestine said:

-have found that it is their right to express their opinion of me freely, as though it can’t hurt or alter me. It’s the branding that does that. And I know it. It dehumanizes me in a way to others. I’m to be stared at and talked about as if I’m not here.

To feel invisible or inhuman and to have people treat you with no respect just because you made one mistake has got to hurt. Personally, I wouldn’t consider what Celestine did a mistake. She was trying to help an elderly man who was in need.

Another quote that struck me was:

Good. You remember that. It’s easy to forget sometimes. Though criminals get better treatment than us. As soon as they serve their time, they’re out. We’re like this forever.

This quote was interesting because in our society criminals are reminded of what they did every day and find it hard to go back to their lives before they went to prison. Meanwhile, in this novel criminals are treated better than the Flawed, and that’s crazy to think about.

The last interesting quote was:

Everything has been given a soul in advertising. Yet the soul is being taken from people. Humanizing objects, dehumanizing people.

Sadly, I’m sure that we can think of plenty of characters from commercials that are given human qualities. Meanwhile, there are actual humans who aren’t treated with any respect because of who they love, what they believe in, the color of their skin, etc.

This book was very interesting to me, and along Celestine’s journey she goes through a lot and finds it hard to trust anybody except for her parents. The ending leaves it open for a sequel which commonly happens with young adult novels these days. Flawed  is available in our catalog. Does Celestine’s world sound similar to ours? What do you think of the flawed society? Let us know in the comments below!

~Kayla

 

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Sarah J. Maas’s World of Assassins

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I read an article a couple of weeks ago announcing that an adult coloring book based on the Throne of Glass series would be released. It will be released on September 6th, the same day as Empire of Stormsthe latest book in the series. I started reading Throne of Glass months ago, but put it down to read other things. The article made me wanna go back to it.

I’m glad that I did, because the book was so great! Throne of Glass follows Celaena Sardothien, an assassin from a land called Terrasen. She was brought to the land of Adarlan by the Crown Prince, Dorian Havilliard, to compete in a contest to become the King’s Champion. Before that, Celaena was a slave in the mines of Endovier. For the sake of the competition, only a few people know Celaena’s real identity, and they are Crown Prince Dorian; the king; and Chaol Westfall, Captain of the Guard.

Celaena is underestimated throughout the competition by just about everyone because she’s a girl. Chaol is mistrustful of her throughout most of the book because of who she really is. Meanwhile, Dorian finds himself falling for her and she likes him too, even though she doesn’t want to admit it at first. As the competition goes on, contestants start to die. Celaena begins to look into why it’s happening, and she becomes skeptical of the people around her. Although Celaena finds that most people either don’t like her or are intimidated by her skills, she makes a friend in Nehemia, a princess who is visiting from Eyllwe.

Celaena is a strong, multi-dimensional female character that you can root for. I’m excited to continue on with this series. Throne of Glass is available in print, audio and e-book format in our catalog.

Have you read Throne of Glass? If so, what did you think of it? Read anything similar to it? Let us know in the comments below!

~Kayla

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A Tangled Web of Crazy

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The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas is one of the best books that I’ve read in a long time. It’s a young adult book, but it reads like an adult thriller. One of the aspects of the novel that drew me to it was the setting. It’s set in Fayette County, PA, which is where my mother and her sisters grew up. Pittsburgh is even mentioned in the novel a few times.

The story centers around Tessa Lowell, who left Fayette County 10 years ago to live with her grandmother in Florida. She comes back to visit her father who is dying in prison. She left Fayette after she helped put Wyatt Stokes in prison for the murder of Lori Cawley, her friend Callie Greenwood’s cousin. Cawley was visiting for the summer from college. Tessa and Callie hadn’t spoken to each other since the trial, and Callie wasn’t happy to see Tessa, especially since she would be staying with the Greenwoods for the duration of her visit.

As the book goes on, readers learn that Tessa and Callie lied about seeing Stokes the night that Lori Cawley was murdered. Tessa and Callie go on a wild goose chase throughout the novel to discover the real killer. One of their childhood friends, Ariel Kouchinsky, is murdered and they try to find her killer as well for most of the book. As the novel goes on, Tessa discovers secrets about her family, former friends and even her own origin.

In addition to trying to find Ariel & Lori’s killer, Tessa is trying to find her mother, Annette, and her sister, Joslin, who ran away when she was a teenager after a fight with their mother. It’s a novel full of twists and turns. Every time, I thought that I had figured out who the killer was another plot twist was thrown my way. It’s an excellent book and is definitely worth reading. The Darkest Corners is available to request in our catalog in print format only. It will be released on April 19th. Happy reading!

~Kayla

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The Lunar Chronicles: A YA Fantasy Series Worth Reading

bookcoverI had first heard about Marissa Meyer’s series through a former colleague. My colleague said to me (and this is actually true) that Meyer got her start through a writing contest. I think that it’s great that Meyer went from winning a writing contest to being a best-selling author.

This series is what I’d call fairy tales with a science fiction twist. The first book, Cinder, is about a girl named Cinder who is what I’d technically call a mechanic even though she doesn’t fix cars—she’s a cyborg. She ends up doing work for Kai, the prince of New Beijing. She tries to warn him about the evil plan from the series’ main villain Lunar Queen Levana’s to start a war with Earth. Cinder, whether she wants to admit it or not, ends up developing feelings for Prince Kai in the process, despite her not telling Kai that she’s a cyborg.

bookcover (1)In the second book, Scarlet, the title character is on a journey to find her grandmother when she crosses paths with Cinder, who’s trying to escape from prison.

bookcover (2)In the third novel, Cress, Cinder and her crew need help from Cress, an expert hacker working for the bad guys against her own will. Cinder wants Cress to help her try to stop something catastrophic from occurring. I won’t give you any spoilers—just know that it’s not good.

What I like about this series is that even though each book centers around a different character, they’re all connected. The next book in the series, Winter, comes out on bookcover (3)November 10th. In the meantime all of the previous novels are available in our catalog as well as Fairest, which is Meyer’s prequel novel about Queen Levana.

Happy reading!

~Kayla

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Just in Time for Banned Books Week

Earlier this month, a mother from Tennessee called The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot “pornographic”–because of the description of Henrietta discovering a cervical tumor–and demanded it be removed from the school’s reading list.

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Rebecca Skloot responded in the best way.

First, she called the mother out for “confusing gynecology with pornography,” and second, and even better, she’s raising funds to donate copies of her book to kids who can’t afford it.*

The book traces the life of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black tobacco farmer who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in the 1950s. When Henrietta died, she left behind six children–and cells from a sample her doctor had taken from one of her tumors.

No one in Henrietta’s family knew the doctors had taken the sample. The cells, now known as HeLa cells, became the first cells that survived in a laboratory setting and led to many scientific advances, including the polio vaccine.

Now scientific and pharmaceutical companies sell HeLa cells to labs across the country, but Henrietta’s family has never seen any of the profit. Skloot has attempted to offset this injustice by using proceeds from her book to create The Henrietta Lacks Foundation, which you can read more about here.

In her compassionate and beautiful telling of Henrietta’s story, Skloot raises issues of medical ethics, race, poverty, and more as she investigates Henrietta’s life, death, and the legacy she left behind. Getting young adults to read this book is an incredible way to promote scientific literacy and engage broader issues of medical ethics and our country’s long history of viewing people of color as “less than.”

If you haven’t read this book, now is the perfect time. Banned Books Week is happening right now, and Henrietta Lacks is available to you in print, large print, e-book, e-audio, and CD.

-Kelly

 

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Help Me Choose: YA Book Club Edition

Before I ever worked for the Library, I was a member of a Young Adult book club. Our book club has gone through a few different iterations, but in the past year or so, we’ve settled into a pretty great rhythm: One person picks the book and the restaurant, and we meet up on a predetermined date to eat tasty food and chat about our book. It’s my turn to pick our title for August, and my deadline to choose just so happens to be tonight. I have so many potential choices I’m having difficulty narrowing it down.  Here’s a look at a few books I’m considering – if you’ve read any of them, please comment and help me decide what my pals and I should read next.

33 Snowfish by Adambookcover (5) Rapp – A gritty-yet-lyrical look at three teenage runaways and their life of crime, this book is sure to be emotional and should inspire some pretty interesting discussions.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kristin Cronn-Mills –  Gabe is balancing his transition from female-to-male, his course load at school, and his burgeoning success as a late-night DJ, and he does it all with uncommon humor and honesty.

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero – Written like a journal, this book gives readers a glimpse at the complicated, messy life of Gabi Hernandez as she navigates everything from a drug-addicted parent to her blossoming sexuality during her senior year in high school. Lots of CLP staff have already declared their love for this title, one review I read on GoodReads described this book as “the YA poster child for #WeNeedDiverseBooks“, and it’s the theme book for this year’s Teen Alternative Homecoming, so this one seems like a pretty strong contender.

bookcover (4)Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers – I’m not typically very interested in books about war, but the description of this book sounds really compelling:  it’s told from the perspective of several young soldiers in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, with less of a focus on tactics of war and more of a focus on the people grappling with this incredibly difficult situation. It’s easy for us to forget how many members of the armed forces are still teenagers, and I expect this to be a sobering reminder. Also, I think I’ve only ever read one other book by Walter Dean Myers, which seems like a major gap in my reading history.

Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin – We’ve only read one other historical fiction title in my book club, and we all enjoyed it. I’m intrigued by the description of this book’s plot, where the main character tries to break free of gender roles in 1920s America.

So, friends, help me decide: What should my book club read next?

-Ginny

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