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


Allegiant by Veronica Roth April 27, 2014

AllegiantIn the final book of the Divergent trilogy, Tris and the others are now living in a factionless society. Some people want to return to the factions, others do not. Much violence and unrest exists in their formerly orderly society. When Tris, Four, and others are chosen for a special mission, they learn the shocking truth of how their society came to be and where it will go from here. Chapters are narrated alternately by Tris and Four, and as before, sometimes they agree, sometimes they are at odds with each other. When no one knows who to trust, every decision is life and death.

There were a lot of people unhappy with the ending of the Divergent trilogy. I wasn’t one of them. I was surprised by the ending, but I was pleased that it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows and devoid of all conflict like the last Twilight book. I also appreciated that while Tris was concerned about Four’s well-being, she also did her own thing and wasn’t shy about disagreeing with him when she thought he was wrong. In the end, Divergent continues to be my favorite of all of the dystopian series I’ve read.

4 out of 5 stars


Reached by Ally Condie February 21, 2013

ReachedThe wait is over. The perfect Society, which brought Cassia, Ky, and Xander together then tore them apart, is falling and they are all a part of the rebellion in one way or another. Sickness, betrayal, misplaced trust, and desperation will test them in ways they never imagined. Will love be enough?

I enjoyed the final book in the Matched trilogy. The series wasn’t violent like the Hunger Games and doesn’t have the raw emotion of Divergent. It is more introspective and a little slower paced. I definitely liked the first book the best but am glad I finished the series.

4 out of 5 stars


Insurgent by Veronica Roth January 29, 2013

InsurgentIn the aftermath of destruction, Tris is struggling to reconcile what she did, where she came from, and where she’s going. Everyone must decide who to trust and as they slowly discover where loyalties lie.  Tris’ feelings of guilt make it hard for her to concentrate on survival, while others decide whether she’s a leader or a traitor. Values, beliefs, and relationships are put to the test in the second book of the Divergent series.

As often happens to the second book in a trilogy, this book seemed to drag on and frustrated me over and over. I will read the next book when it comes out and hope that it renews my enjoyment of the series.

3 out of 5 stars



Divergent by Victoria Roth December 22, 2012

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


Delirium by Lauren Oliver October 13, 2012

Lena has been waiting a long time for the procedure.  She only has 95 days to go.  Ever since the government declared love a disease and scientists created a cure, the uncureds live in danger of infection.  Lena is particularly susceptible.  Her mother died of the disease.  Now Lena must be especially careful- don’t talk to uncured males, follow the rules of the Book of Shhh, prepare for her evaluation that will put her on course to be educated and matched with a spouse chosen by the government.  All is going to plan until the day of Lena’s evaluation.  Security at the facility is breached and Lena’s evaluation is interrupted.  For a brief moment, she sees a young man watching the chaos.  A man who will disrupt her plans for a perfect, safe life.

Yes, another dystopian fiction.  This time love is the enemy.  When one becomes an adult, a procedure takes away part of the brain and prevents love- the deliria.  According to the dystopian fiction formula, Lena is at first a firm believer in the rules, then changes her mind and begins to think for herself.  The book was good, but I enjoyed Matched more.

3 out of 5 stars


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



Matched by Ally Condie August 23, 2012

In the Society, Officials decide what you eat, where you work, when you die, even who you will marry.  Now that Cassia is seventeen, she goes to her Match ceremony to find that her Match is her best friend, Xander.  Things could not be more perfect.  But when Cassia opens her microcard next day, it is not Xander’s face that appears.  She is assured by an Official is that it is a mistake, that her Match really is Xander.  From that day on, however, she cannot stop thinking about the other boy’s face that showed up on the screen.  The result is a dangerous amount of thinking about Ky, the boy who could never be her Match.  Cassia must decide if the Society really knows what’s best… or if she’s better off deciding for herself.
Yes, it’s another utopian/dystopian teen novel.  But I liked it!  I’ll admit, I haven’t read The Giver, so I can’t compare the two books.  (It’s at home, and I promise I’ll read it soon.) Although there were many negative reviews for this book on Goodreads and Amazon, it’s a 2013-2014 Golden Sower nominee and appeared on NPR’s 100 Best Ever Teen Novels readers’ poll located here  It is a quick read, it has lots of teen appeal, and I liked it enough to check out the sequel, Crossed as soon as I got to work today.

5 out of 5 stars


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