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

 

Winger by Andrew Smith April 24, 2014

WingerRyan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old high school junior at a fancy boarding school in Oregon. This year he’s been transferred to O-Hall, the residence hall for the troublemakers. If his roommate Chas doesn’t kill him, it will be a miracle. Ryan Dean just hopes he can make his smoking hot friend Annie realize he’s not a little boy first. Annie, his friend Joey, and rugby are best things about this year, the year he becomes his own man.

I can’t write a review that does this book justice. It’s that awesome. Sure, it’s filled with swear words and Ryan Dean spends almost all of his time talking about or thinking about sex with every female he sees. But it’s also so funny, endearing, and heart breaking. Read it and love it.

5 out of 5 stars

 

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani July 11, 2013

Yonahlossee Riding CampThe story begins as fifteen-year-old Thea Atwell’s father drops her off at the Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls. Thea has been sent away from the only home she has ever known, a perfect swath of Florida land, her pony, Sasi, and her twin brother, Sam. The year is 1930 and the county is in the midst of the Great Depression; however, the Atwell family’s citrus farms continue to be prosperous and Thea finds herself around other girls from wealthy families where social status is of the utmost importance. As Thea navigates the complicated social structure and feels abandoned by her family, she takes an intense interest in the headmaster’s family and tries to forget the terrible situation that caused her expulsion from her family and home.

I loved this book. It was full of drama, passion, bits of history, family struggles, sexual awakening, and the emotional roller coaster of being a teenager. The story of why Thea was sent away is told in flashbacks – a plot device I enjoy  if it’s done well. The story has some mature content; I would recommend to older teens or adults.

5 out of 5 stars

 

Just One Day by Gayle Forman June 13, 2013

Just One DayStraight-A student, Allyson Headley’s parents send her on a European tour as a graduation present. Teen Tours is a whirlwind of museums, cathedrals, picturesque sites, and photo opportunities. Most of the other kids go to bars to take advantage of the lower drinking age, but not Allyson. She watches movies in her hotel room and goes to sleep early. On the last day of the trip, her friend Melanie convinces her to skip out on the evening’s activity to go to an impromptu outdoor Shakespeare performance. That’s when Allyson sees him. After the performance, she does something completely unlike her. She talks to the tall, cute boy from the play. The next day, she runs into him again and is talked into spending just one day with him in Paris. This magical day changes her life forever.

The plot of this book was fairly predictable. Straight-laced female does something daring that changes her life and opens up things she would have never dreamed about before. Allyson really grows as a character and sets her life on a course that makes her happy instead of pleasing her overbearing mother. I would recommend this to older teens and adults who like realistic fiction and travel fiction.

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

 

 

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli January 17, 2013

Maniac MageeNo one is sure who was the first to call him Maniac.  He just appeared in town one day.  After Jeffrey Magee’s parents died in a trolly crash, he started running and didn’t stop until he arrived in Two Mills.  Along his path to finding a real home, Jeffrey meets Amanda, a book-loving girl his age, an elderly former baseball star named Grayson, the wild McNab family, and a boy nicknamed Mars Bar.  In a time when blacks and whites were separate, Maniac Magee is able see past the gap between the two sides of town and bring happiness to people he meets along the way.

This is a heartwarming story about a boy desperate to find his place in the world.  It takes place during a time when segregation was still in existence, yet Jeffrey remains colorblind and innocent to the racial tension around him.  I would recommend this to upper elementary students, especially boys, for Jeffrey’s adventurous spirit and athletic abilities.

1991 Newbery Medal Winner

5 out of 5 stars

 

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

 

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

 

 
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