Great Reads for Teens and Tweens!

Helping you make an informed decision about that book

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Title: Twilight

Author: Stephenie Meyer

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Year: 2008

ISBN -13: 978-0316038379

Age: 14 and up

Genre: Fiction

Subjects / Themes: high school, forbidden romance, fantasy & magic, vampires, relationships

Awards: Publishers Weekly’s “Best Children’s Books of 2005”, School Library Journal’s “Best Books of 2005”, 2008 #26 in USA Today’s list of “Bestselling Books of Last 15 Years”, bestselling book of 2008 and second biggest selling of 2009

Plot Summary:

When 17-year-old Bella Swan moves to Forks, Washington she unwillingly becomes the center of attention in her new peers eyes, except one. Bella is mystified by the alluring and handsome Edward Cullen who spends little time socializing with his classmates and most of the time with his family. The Cullens have managed to keep their vampire identity a secret in the small community of Forks but everything changes when their existence and Bella’s life is threatened.Can Bella and Edward’s love survive their biological differences and will Edward be able to protect everyone he loves?

My Take:

This wouldn’t be a teen book review blog if I didn’t include the “hottest” book since Harry Potter and before the Hunger Games. I’ve put off this review because I’m not sure I can be completely unbiased. Let me explain …

The first time I read this book I was in college and recently single. I never really fit in with any of my classmates so I was totally feeling like Bella Swan. The idea of falling in love with a good-looking but dangerous boy? Enticing. I devoured every page and didn’t sleep a wink that entire week because I JUST HAD TO READ THE WHOLE SERIES.

The second time I read the book I hated every minute of it. Coming out of a tough break-up probably didnt’ help but all I could think was Bella was an idiot. I couldn’t understand what had appealed to me the first time I read the book but this second time I was definitely not Bella. How could she put herself in danger and not think or care about how it would affect her family or few friends? Or my biggest annoyance, how could their love be so deep and true if they hardly knew one another?!

Not too long ago I reread this book for a third time. I can honestly say, I don’t understand the hype around this book or movie. Sure the story is fun and a little daring but I found too many flaws and inconsistencies in Meyer’s writing to really enjoy the book. For example in one paragraph it’s the beginning of the week and Bella is getting ready for finals, the next paragraph finals are over but in the paragraph after that Edward is walking her down the hall after Bella finishes her first final. What the heck? I found myself having to reread certain passages over and over again before I could move on which made this third reading rather tedious. I found the characters to be rather shallow and poorly developed. How could Bella an honor student act so stupid sometimes? And if Edward has lived for a hundred years, why isn’t he smarter?

All in all … if you are thinking about reading it after a break-up, don’t. You really won’t like it. If you are thinking about reading it for fun, then enjoy. If you have an analytical brain who likes a story to have a consistent flow, I’d think twice.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Those inconsistencies really bug me!

Similar Read: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

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Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Title: Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author: Stephen Chbosky

Publisher: MTV Books          Year: 1999

ISBN -13: 978-0671027346

Age: 14 and up

Genre: Fiction

Subjects / Themes: coming of age, high school, young adult, teen

Awards: Bluegrass Award, Garden State Teen Book Award, Volunteer State Book Award

Plot Summary:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a beautiful and painful story about 15-year-old Charlie and his experiences through his freshman year of high school. Unlike most diary novels, Charlie writes his accounts in the form of a letter to an unknown friend and within those letters he is brutally and unabashedly honest. The year before freshman year his one and only friend committed suicide and when he was six, his favorite aunt passed away in a car accident, both of which he holds himself accountable. Charlie is a wallflower who blends in with his surroundings but observes everything in incredible detail. It isn’t until he befriends seniors Patrick and Samantha that he even begins to come out of his shell and “experience” high school.

My Take:

The reason I read this book was because it cause quite a stir at the middle school where I work. There are some pretty detailed scenes about teens talking about rumors they heard of other teens having sex and drug use. There is also a teen pregnancy which results in an abortion without the parents knowing. This book is truly a great read and deals with the not so pretty side of growing up that unfortunately some teens face. My biggest advice is to know your teen and what they are capable of reading, understanding and handling. As for those details? Don’t jump around and look for all the “dirty” parts because if you read them out of context that is all you are going to get out of it … “dirty parts.” Read the whole book and take it for what the author intends it to be.

Charlie is a wallflower because he observes people and feels very deeply for the experiences around him. He must deal with the intensity of a first crush, the excitement around a new-found “private” activity, beer parties, bad trips, and sex. Charlie encounters and deals with everything that is prevalent in high schools today. My favorite part of the book is when Charlie, Samantha, and Patrick are driving around listening to music. Samantha and Patrick ask Charlie if he is ok because he has gotten silent and he looks at them and says, “I feel infinite … and in that moment, I swear we were infinite.” What a powerful moment! At that moment in the book I was reminded of the nights spent driving my convertible with my girlfriends and music blaring. I too, truly believed those nights would go on forever.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars … I wasn’t very happy with the ending 😦

Similar read: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

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Soul Eater, Volume 1 by Atsushi Ohkubo

Title: Soul Eater

Author: Atsushi Ohkubo

Publisher: Yen Press    Year: 2009

ISBN -13: 978-0759530010

Genre: Manga

Age: 14 and up

Themes / subjects: Science fiction, fantasy, comics & graphic novels, manga, weapons, school, death

 

Plot Summary:

Death Weapon Meister Academy (DWMA) is a school run by Shanigami Death where students (meisters) are partnered with living weapons and trained to battle and absorb evil souls. The goal of  meisters and weapons are to absorb the souls of 99 evil humans and 1 witch, greatly increasing the weapon’s power and transforming them into death scythes which can be used by Shanigami Death. Volume 1 of Soul Eater follows the individual adventures of Meister Maka Albarn and her weapon partner Soul Eater, Black Star and his weapon partner Tsubaki Nakatsukasa, and Death the Kid with his weapon partners Liz and Patty Thompson. The biggest issue is not the evil minions they face, but their own “quirky” personalities!

My Take:

This was my first Manga read and came highly recommended from one of my students who actually let me borrow her copy. A word to the wise, figure out how to read the book first! Soul Eater is a Japanese manga which is read right to left or “backwards” to the American reader. I didn’t realize this at first and was very confused because the story didn’t seem to flow right but a couple pages into it, I got it.

With that said, I am hooked on this series! I found the complexity of the meisters relationship with their weapons to be very intriging. Maka is a young, cute schoolgirl yet her weapon Soul is obnoxiously brash. Assassin Black Star considers himself a big show-off while his weapon Tsubaki is sweet and tries to keep him in line. Death’s kid is completely nuts about symmetry to the point he can’t continue his task if he thinks the toilet paper at home is not folded correctly. His twin weapons Patty and Liz don’t understand his problem but they still love him anyway. Despite the characters obvious personality differences, they work extremely well together and in fact make excellent teams. This goes to show that the most unexpected persons can make great partners.

Manga is a very unique and distinctive art style that is specific to Japanese graphic novels, typically intended for adults. Ohkubo’s chiaroscuro panels, askew close-ups, and quirky style blend to create supernatural worlds with a Halloween feel.

Soul Eater is a dark comedy/action series meaning it contains violence and some sexual content. I think it’s important to note that this book and its characters are not violent for the sake of violence, but rather they are battling demons and evil souls in an effort to save their world and mankind. Know your teen and what they can handle!

** Soul Eater is also an anime series (available through youtube) which I found to closely follow the book in both design and dialogue. Here is a link to the first episode http://youtu.be/apzgClzK-7w

Rating: 5/5 stars … this book left me wanting more!

Similar Read: One Piece by Eiichiro Oda

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