Young Adult Books, ages 11 or 12 and up
Comments on THE HUNGER GAMES, by Suzanne Collins.This book and the rest in the series are highly popular now, and the writing in them is admirable. Unfortunately, I have deep concerns about the plot. In the stories, teenagers are offered up in a national game wherein the goal is for only one teenager to survive. The kids spend the book killing each other off. I realize that anything this drastic is written to make a point—Isn’t war gruesome?—but I believe that point has been made. Of course, we still send our young people off to kill other young people in foreign countries, where we don’t have to witness it. Currently, consider Afghanistan and Iraq. Hmmm.
THE RED PYRAMID, (Kane Chron., Bk 1), by Rick Riordan.The Red Pyramid features Carter Kane, 14, and his sister Sadie, 12, children of Dr. Julius Kane who is an Egyptologist. They became separated after the mysterious death of their mother, but are reunited when their father arrives in London and wants them to tour the British Museum with him. Right away “the plot thickens,” as we say, when one of the museum’s most prized exhibits, the Rosetta Stone, appears to destruct. Dr. Kane vanishes, Sadie and Carter are abducted, and five Egyptian gods are released, including the dangerous god SET, whose goal is to control the world. Wow. Riveting action, great characters, many laughs along the way. SLJ Starred Review.
FEED, by M.T. AndersonIn an imaginative (and somewhat creepy) excursion into the future, Anderson offers us a story wherein computers and TV are connected directly into people’s brains when they’re infants. The hero, Titus, never wonders about this, but when he and his friends go to the moon on spring break, he meets Violet, who’s been homeschooled. She has questions and ideas foreign to Titus. In his world, kids “chat” with each other by silent transmission from mind to mind. In his world, they buy and do and think just what the streaming media says. Of course, this is a keen satire on the life we’re now leading, and thoughtful readers will start questioning just as Titus eventually learns to do. A memorable book!
BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS, by Shannon HaleHalf historical fiction with an unusual setting, half romance, and all of it great fun! This tale of two young women sentenced to isolation in a tower is set in medieval Mongolia. The gentlewoman who got them sent to solitary confinement is the Lady Saren, who refused to marry the man her father chose. Keeping her company is her maid, Dashti, who tells the story in the form of journal entries. You could call this “chick lit,” but it’s extremely well written for that genre. (If this sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because you’re remembering a little-known fairy tale from the Grimm brothers about Maid Maleen.)
ROCKET BOYS, by Homer H. Hickam, Jr.Back in 1947, a smart kid named Homer Hickam decided to build his own rockets, and with his close friends as partners he created the Big Creek Missile Agency in a small coal-mining town in West Virginia. Luckily, he lived to become a NASA engineer, but not before having some close calls at the BCMA with explosive substances. His little town, Coalwood, W. VA, was dying, but Homer’s grand project, supported by his science teacher and his independent mother, became his ticket out of town. A superb memoir that all ages would enjoy. The movie of this book is OCTOBER SKY.
- SOME WE LOVE, SOME WE HATE, SOME WE EAT, by Hal Herzog
- The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan.
- Bloody Jack, Being An Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary (Jacky) Faber, Ship's Boy by L.A. Meyer.
- Extreme Pets! by Jane Harrington.
- Fragments by Jeffry W. Johnston (Edgar award nominee, 2008)
- Young Adult Books, ages 11 or 12 and up
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