Saturday, March 17, 2012

For Starters let me say this...

Holy freakin' cow!!!! I've had so many kids read The Hunger Games trilogy, and come in asking what to read next. There are tons of great dystopian fiction books out there, unfortunately, most of them are geared more toward the high school crowd. Collins created a unique beast in this series that appealed to such a wide range of readers, so "what to read next" usually becomes a game of breaking down what it was they really liked most about the books and then finding a middle school appropriate compliment.   Do they want another dystopian futuristic setting? Is a book jammed packed with action and violence what they crave? Do dark and manipulative characters float their boat? Are moral dilemmas the piece they tuned in to? Or, perhaps was it the romance that captured their hearts? Depending on the answer they give, I might direct them towards any number of books- The Giver, The Compound, Uglies, Twilight, or even The White Mountains. My readers generally walk away happy, but I know that they are secretly craving something that will recreate that perfect cocktail of deliciousness that is The Hunger Games. Well folks...I think I might have just read it. Starters by Lissa Price offers a nice combination of so many of those elements that kids loved in The Hunger Games. The dystopian society is there. Adults with shady motives coated in a layer of distrust. Danger and romance. Friendship and family. Tough choices and a twisted plot. And of course, a female heroine you will route for with every turn of the page. Oh, and did I mention that the ending sets itself up very nicely for a series? Next time someone asks what to read next, I'll tell them to start with Starters.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Review of The Night She Dissappeared by April Henry

I recently read a galley copy of The Night She Dissappeared by April Henry. The book will be released tomorrow. It is definitely a high school read (references to recreational drug use, under-age drinking, and heavy make-out scene), that will be a perfect fit for fans of crime fiction. 

So the story starts out with a typical night of teens working at a local pizza parlor. Drew, a high school boy, answers the phone when someone calls in to place an order for delivery. He doesn't think much of it, when the voice on the phone asks if the girl who drives the mini cooper is working that night. She's not... lucky for her. Kayla, who has traded nights with Gabie, is the one running the deliveries that night. Fast forward a few hours.... Kayla still hasn't come back from making the delivery. She's been kidnapped.

What follows are many emotionally charged and intense days, as the community searches for Kayla. I loved all the different perspectives that were presented. You get to see things from a lot of different angles- Kayla's, Gabie's, Drew's, and even the kidnapper's.  Discovered evidence, transcripts of the 911 call, etc.. all add to the mystery. The developing relationship between Gabie and Drew will also keep teen readers hooked.

Emotional, intense, fast paced, and fun!