Young Adult and Adult Fiction Books reviewed by NHS Students, December 2018.
This book was really disturbing, but not because it was some warped horror tale, but because it’s all too true: it’s about rape culture in our society and how acceptable it is. I really had a hard time reading this because I felt like I was the main character, experiencing all the same raw emotions she was. I wish the book had a more positive ending, but that’s life. I don’t know that I could recommend this to others, because it really is pretty disturbing. Genre: Realistic fiction.
This novel is tough to read because the dialog and political settings (London and Nigeria) may be so unfamiliar to most high school kids. However, the topics: police brutality, prejudice, gender bias, pollution, and sexual questioning are universal and current. It deals with harsh reality (a murder and subsequent riot) as well as myths and is very interesting. It actually reminded me of Ellen Hopkins’ works, in how direct the prose is, but it is far broader and more interesting. Genre: Realistic fiction.
Ribay, Randy. After the Shot Drops. $17.99. ISBN 978-1328702272. 336 p. Gr. 9-12. P8Q6
This book is about basketball and friendship. That sounds pretty basic, but this is one complicated story, with betrayal, hard luck, violence, and love all playing major roles. It’s told from the alternating perspective of 2 boys, which sounds weird, but it works and the book’s fast pace really keeps the reader interested. Genre: Realistic fiction (sports.)
Every other chapter in this book is the true story of a child soldier in Uganda in 1989, Ricky Anywar. He was kidnapped, then trained, armed, and forced to kill for Kony’s army. Through interviews, Ricky actually helped the author write the other chapters in this book, which covers the life of a fictional (but typical) boy named Samuel, who faces the same violence that Ricky did. It’s hard to read at times, since it is so brutal, but it’s an important message that all high school students should hear. Genre: Historical fiction.
Lawson, Richard. All We Can Do Is Wait. Razorbill, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9780448494111. 288p. Gr 7-10. P7Q
This book is about grief, disaster, and love and how reality can change so quickly. There’s enough romance thrown in to make it appealing, even when it’s depressing as heck. Even though the reading level is pretty young, the plot is really complex and the character development is strong. The only thing I didn’t like was the ending, it felt rushed and incomplete. Genre: Realistic fiction.
A very violent, intense zombie novel, The Rains is good because the characters are so real. The whole thing is fast-paced and you feel like you are reading a movie script. Genre: Horror/Paranormal.
Choi, Mary H.K. Emergency Contact. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 978-1534408968. 400p. Gr.9-12. P6Q6
The writing in this book reminds me of a buffet in a really good restaurant, but right before it closes and there’s only a tiny bit of deliciousness left in each bowl. There’s a few cute phrases, adorable characters, angsty young adults, a rape, eating disorder musings, and cultural dysphoria – but it’s not really “filling” and the book falls a bit short of being anything more than a touchy-feely romance novel. Not saying it isn’t good, but it could’ve been GREAT. Maybe there will be a sequel? Genre: Romance.
Starting with an amazing cover, this book (written during NaNoWriMo, which is so cool, as I am writing now, too) kicks off a promising trilogy. The story is about a young girl who learns her late father’s history is tainted with a serious crime. Since all personal history is revealed via tattoos on their skin, there’s no hiding secrets and she has to deal with the consequences. It sounds predictable, but there are so many twists to the story that it really makes it interesting. Can’t wait to read the next installment! Genre: Dystopian.
Rutledge, A.B. Miles Away from You. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2018. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1328852335. 272p. Gr.10+. P5Q7
Miles is a pansexual son of lesbian mothers who falls for a transsexual girl, and both of them run an online LGBQT advocacy group. If that isn’t complicated enough, the girl tries to commit suicide, falls into a coma, and her intolerant religious parents put her on life support. Miles must come to grips with who he is and what he can do to be true to himself. Not sure many high school kids would understand the situations or complexity of this dark story, but it’s well-written. Genre: Realistic Fiction/LBGTQ
This is a selection of many different genres of stories, ranging from romance to science-fiction, by 12 different authors. The settings and perspectives of each character in the stories are very different, but the common thread is that all of them are disabled. I found it to be positive and affirming and I think other teens will, too.
Day, Anna. The Fandom. Chicken House, 2018. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1338232707. 416p. Gr.11+ P7Q7
I really liked this book; I got pulled into the characters right away. It is so easy to relate to their joy and their pain, and I found myself crying a lot while I was reading this. It has a lot of violence, and there’s a scene where they infiltrate a brothel. Probably for mature readers only!