Bethany's Readers' Advisory

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

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares May 1, 2014

Here and NowThe author of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series is back with a YA book in a completely different genre: science fiction with elements of dystopian future. Seventeen-year-old Prenna immigrated to New York four years ago. She did not come from another country; she came from another time. Prenna and her community were living in the 2090s, a time plagued with a lethal blood disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Everyone lived in fear of being bitten until things were so bad that they knew they had to get out. Those who were strong enough traveled to the year 2010 and settled down around New York. The community had to stick together and follow very strict rules about what they needed to do to fit in and what they couldn’t do to risk harming the “time natives” they were living amongst. Prenna pushes the limits with Ethan, a boy from school who seems to know her better than anyone, even though she’s tried to do her best to keep her distance. When she is given information by someone she thought was a crazy homeless man, his story shocks her and causes her to question everything she’s been told for the past four years. Could this man be telling the truth? And how does Ethan fit into the equation?

This was a very interesting story. It is certainly different from other books by this author. Like many time travel imaginings, this story addressed how seemingly innocent actions by those who have traveled back in time can have dire consequences in the future. It also touches on the implications of our current use of fossil fuels and their effect on the the environment in the future. I would recommend this book to older teens or adults who would appreciate the story and the message behind it.

5 out of 5 stars

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The Giver by Lois Lowry September 13, 2012

The story begins as Jonas and his friends become Twelves.  Jonas can guess which careers will be assigned to many of his classmates, but he has no idea what will be chosen for him.  The whole community is taken by surprise when he is presented as the next Receiver of Memories.  In a town where there is no sickness, no conflict, no crime, and no hunger, there is only one person who holds the memories of these things from the past.  As Jonas takes on the memories, he realizes there’s more to life than the safety and monotony of their utopian community and must make his own choices for his future.

This was a classic I had never read and decided it was time after reading the Hunger Games and Matched series.  The Giver is thought-provoking and unsettling.  I can see why it has been challenged a number of times; it contains some controversial ideas, sure to spur discussion.   Let’s all read it and discuss.

5 out of 5 stars

Newbery Medal winner

 

 

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins September 9, 2012

Spoiler alert: This doesn’t give away the ending, but you might not want to read this review if you haven’t read any of the other books in the series.

Katniss has escaped the arena alive once again, only to learn her home, District 12, has been destroyed and District 13 exists after all.  She learns she is the face of the rebellion, a role she is hesitant to fill.  With many lives in her hands, Katniss must choose a side and accept that every choice she makes will have dire consequences.  Is she willing to be the “Mockingjay” no matter the cost?

Well, I finished the series.  Mockingjay was quite suspenseful and just when you thought no one else could be killed, ten more people die.  I continued to be frustrated by Katniss and decided I prefer the more fallible Cassia from the Matched series.  I’m glad I read the series and would recommend it to teens and adults who aren’t averse to books with a heavy dose of violence.

4 out of 5 stars

 

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The second book of the Hunger Games series begins with a victorious Katniss, still alive after the Hunger Games.  But many things in District 12 have changed since she left.  Her relationship with Gale is strained, there are harsher punishments for breaking the rules, and rumors of a rebellion are floating around the districts.  Katniss realizes that her actions to keep her and Peeta alive during the Hunger Games have set more in motion than she intended.  Now as she and Peeta tour the districts as the winning tributes, she must convince everyone that they are in love… or their lives and the lives of those they love may be in jeopardy.

Like the first book, Catching Fire was full of suspenseful moments and relies on Katniss’ bravery and strong personality.  At times I tired of how Katniss feels like she needs to protect absolutely everyone from everything and wished she had more vulnerable moments.

3.5 out of 5 stars

 

 

Crossed by Ally Condie

This sequel to Matched tells Cassia’s and Ky’s stories in alternating chapters.  Both are doing hard labor, far away from the quiet suburb where they met.  As Cassia struggles to get back to the boy she loves, Ky struggles to survive.  With a brief cameo from Xander, Cassia’s Match, we learn only that he is still willing to fight for her and that he has a secret.

As often happens with the second book in a series, Crossed was a little slow compared to Matched.  It was more about the journey than any real action until the ending, which sets the scene for the third book.  Even though I didn’t enjoy the second book as much as the first, I was still invested in the characters and rushed to the library to get the third book in the series… that doesn’t come out until November.

4 out of 5 stars

 

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce August 15, 2012

Shortly before her 16th birthday, Tara Martin fights with her boyfriend, Richie.  She wants to be alone, so she takes a walk in the woods.  She was never seen again.  Twenty years later, on Christmas Day, Tara’s parents hear a knock at the door.  It is Tara.  She is dirty and disheveled but appears not to have aged at all.  When she tries to explain to her brother, Peter, the truth about where she has been, he doesn’t believe her.  No one does.  Will things ever be the same between Tara and the people she left behind?

This book was fantasy mixed with realistic fiction, fairy tale .  You will find yourself imagining yourself in each character’s place.  Would you believe the unbelievable?

5 out of 5 stars

 

East by Edith Pattou October 9, 2011

Rose grows up believing she is an east born child, just like her mother had planned.  Unlike an east, Rose is always outside exploring.  It is during one of her adventures that she first sees the white bear.  Years later, the family is hungry and poor.  They are days from being evicted from their home and Rose’s sister is gravely ill.  The white bear comes to their door with a proposition that Rose cannot refuse.  The family’s livelihood and Rose’s future are dependent on a strange, talking bear.

Rose’s new life is mysterious.  She is made very comfortable, yet she yearns to know more about the white bear and its past.  But what if Rose’s ignorance is the only thing keeping the white bear- and herself- safe?

I’ll admit I was hesitant about this book.  Fantasy and outdoor survival are generally not my favorite genres.  However, I persevered with East and was rewarded.  After a slow start, it was an exciting and intriguing story with a strong female lead.  Recommended for middle school and high school girls who like fantasy and adventure stories.

 

 
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