Bethany's Readers' Advisory

The place to go for readers' advisory on books for children, teens, and adults

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan December 22, 2012

Lightning ThiefPercy Jackson is often in trouble, but not for normal things like having a messy room or talking back to his parents.  During the last class field trip, a teacher turned into a monster and he fought her with a pen that turned into a sword.  No one will believe him.  In fact, they deny the teacher even existed.  Percy soon finds out he is not crazy and he is not a regular kid.  After a series of events lead him to a camp of kids like him, he and his two friends are sent on a quest to resolve a conflict between the gods.  Percy soon learns that nothing is as it seems when you’re a demigod.

This was a decent story that boys would love.  The main character is a boy with ADHD who is always getting into trouble but later learns he’s actually someone very important and his struggles with school are due to his special powers.  I probably won’t read anymore of the series, but it really hits the mark with its target audience.  The reader for the audiobook does a great job making the story come to life.  I will recommend to boys who liked Harry Potter and other adventure/fantasy stories.  As an added bonus, this series has inspired readers to ask for books about Greek gods.

3 out of 5 stars

 

Divergent by Victoria Roth

DivergentThe city formerly known as Chicago has been divided into five factions- Candor, Abnegation, Dauntless, Amity, and Erudite.  Each faction has different traits and values.  During their sixteenth year, all young adults have to choose their faction for life.  Beatrice was born Abnegation; she was raised to be selfless and to live with just the basics, no luxury.  Being selfless is difficult for her and she doesn’t feel like she belongs.  When it is her turn to choose, she makes a choice that no one is expecting, not even herself.

As a result of her decision, Beatrice, who changes her name to Tris, must endure rigorous training with life-or-death consequences.  She also must keep a secret, a secret that could cost her her life if discovered.  Tris discovers that great power comes with great responsibility.

As we end 2012, here are my rankings for young adult dystopian fictions: 1. Matched, 2. Divergent, 3. Hunger Games, 4. Delirium.  The quality I like most in both Matched and Divergent was that the main characters spent their whole lives following the rules until their rites of passage into adulthood changed their thinking.  I felt like they had character development AND the main characters weren’t annoying.  Tris had both strengths and weaknesses and seemed more human than Katniss.  I’m looking forward to the second book in the series.

5 out of 5 stars

 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks December 21, 2012

Filed under: adult non-fiction,Uncategorized — Bethany @ 12:49 pm
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Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksYou’ve probably never heard of Henrietta Lacks, but she might very well be the reason you’re alive today.  In the early 1950’s, she was admitted to the colored ward at Johns Hopkins with a cancerous tumor.  Doctors took some of the cells from her body for research.  Those cells never died.  Henrietta’s cells, known as HeLa to scientists, still exist today and have been used to develop everything from a polio vaccine to in vitro fertilization to gene mapping.

Neither Henrietta nor her family knew that her cells were taken or used by scientists all over the world.  Many years later author Rebecca Skloot became intrigued with the story and contacted the family to find their perspectives.  She discovered how little they knew about their mother, her cells, and the impact on their lives.  Ms. Skloot spent a decade writing the untold story of Henrietta Lacks and her family, especially her daughter Deborah.

This is a fascinating true story of science, bioethics, the horrifying experiments done on African Americans by doctors in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and the resulting contributions to science.  It is both a human interest story and a lesson in the ethics of medicine.

5 out of 5 stars

 

Wonder by R.J. Palacio December 17, 2012

WonderDeformed.  That’s the word that most people use to describe August Pullman’s face.  He has a rare genetic disorder and even after all the surgeries, his face is noticeably different.  He has gotten used to the stares, the double-takes, the comments. Up until now, Auggie’s mother has homeschooled him.  As he’s going into fifth grade, his parents bring up regular school.  Auggie is accepted to Beecher Prep and the principal even introduces him to a couple kids before school starts.  But will his classmates ever be able to look past his face to see him for who he really is- a regular kid just like them?

Ever feel like all you can see are your flaws?  This is the kind of book that will make you how easy things are when your eyes are in the right place, your ears look like ears, and people don’t gasp in horror at the sight of you.  Those who get to know August realize he’s funny, smart, and… a regular kid.  But middle school is a hard place for those who don’t fit in and your heart goes out to the big struggles of such a young person.

5 out of 5 stars

 

 
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