Great Reads for Teens and Tweens!

Helping you make an informed decision about that book

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Title: The Giver

Author: Lois Lowry

Publisher: Random House Children’s Books            Year: 2002

ISBN-13: 9780440237686

Genre: Fiction

Age: 12 and up

Awards: 1994 Newbery Medal, 1996 William Allen White Award,  American Library Association listings for “Best Book for Young Adults”, “ALA Notable Children’s Book“, and “100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–2000”,  A Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book, Winner of the Regina Medal, Booklist Editors’ Choice, A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

Themes / Subjects: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Coming of Age, Classics, Dystopia, Survival, Social Situations

Plot Summary:

Jonas lives with no pain or worry, a place where our world’s issues have been eliminated. Everything in his community is orderly and perfect, but there is no love, until The Giver shares it with Jonas. Then life’s pleasure and pain become part of his own life, his truth. Jonas begins to question the perfection of the community and it is here that the story begins to unfold. Angered and confused by his imperfect and very intriguing past, Jonas must save himself and his community from the fantasy life that has been thrust upon them.

My Take:

Back before parents were complaining about Twilight, Harry Potter, or the Hunger Games, parents had issues with Lois Lowry’s The Giver. There are some pretty disturbing situations that Joans must go through to test his courage, strength, and heart in the story but it is not without reason. Like The Hunger Games this book brings up a multitude of emotions such as joy, anger, horror, love and desire. This read is an excellent part of a student’s curriculum because in the classroom there is an opportunity for discussion and further understanding. Parents should encourage their teens to discuss the consequences of the book and how that might look in our own society.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Similar read: Matched by Ally Condie

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The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Title: The Maze Runner

Author: James Dashner

Publisher: Delacorte Press      Year: 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0385737951

Genre: Science Fiction

Age: 12 and up

Awards: YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers 2011

Themes / Subjects: dystopian society, young adult, fantasy adventure, science fiction, relationships

Plot Summary:

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name everything else is a complete blank. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them open and every night they are closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.

My Take:

If you are looking for a great series to read after finishing Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games Trilogy then this is exactly what you are looking for.

From the very beginning and until the finish, author James Dashner provides barely enough information to answer the questions that form in the reader’s mind but what information he gives does promote one to keep reading. I found myself reading the book in one sitting because I just had to know what was going on and how the story was going to end.

I felt the characters weren’t as well developed as they could have been. Teresa is an extremely important character yet she is just so flat. Thomas was a bit of a disappointment as well and his character really doesn’t develop until almost the end of the book. On the other hand certain secondary characters were so deeply created that they at times had a larger impact on me than the main character.

By the end of the book I was wondering, what was the point of all that? The characters themselves don’t understand why they were put through the horrors they were and one can only hope this is because the author will develop the story I the next two books. The reason I liked this book was because the suspense kept me intrigued. I just had to know why the boys were in the maze and how they were going to escape. I just with it had been more thought provoking and detailed.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars … The plot seemed to drag which dragged out the suspense and not always in a good way. Still a great read.

Similar read: Divergent by Veronica Roth

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Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Title: Life As We Knew It

Author: Susan Beth Pfeffer

Publisher: Graphia      Year: 2008

ISBN-13: 978-0152061548

Genre: Fiction

Age: 12 and up

Awards: Young Adult Library Association’s Best Books for Young Adults in 2007, shortlisted for the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Science Fiction or Fantasy Book of 2007, Booklist Editor’s Choice Award for Books for Youth (Older Reader’s Category) in 2006,  nominated for the 2009 Rebecca Caudill Young Readers’ Book Award and the Truman Readers Award of 2008-2009, CCBC Choice, Junior Library Guild Premier selection, Listening Library selection, Amazon.com Best Book of the Year, 2011 ALA Popular Paperback, winner of six state awards

Themes / Subjects: Post-apocalyptic, young adult, survival, catastrophe, science fiction, dystopia, family life

Plot Summary:

I guess I always felt even if the world came to an end, McDonald’s still would be open.

Miranda thought that the asteroid hitting the moon was just an excuse for her high school teachers to pile on more homework. So at 9:30pm on Wednesday, May 18th, Miranda joins her mom, brother Jonny and the rest of the world outside to watch this event. Disbelief suddenly turns to fear, as the moon is knocked out of orbit and suddenly much closer to the Earth. The result is catastrophic. Tsunamis begin wiping out the coastlines and islands, earthquakes shake the nation causing fires and destruction, sleepy volcanoes begin to erupt and the ash blocks out the sun. As summer turns to fall and fall into winter, Miranda’s family retreats into the sunroom of their home with only a woodstove for heat and a stockpile of food to survive. Everyone keeps saying it’s going to get better; it has to get better, but will it?

My Take:

I just finished this book today and am extremely sad that it ended! BUT while looking up more information about this book and author I am so proud to announce that the story doesn’t stop here, but is only the beginning of a trilogy! Three cheers for Susan Pfeffer! Hip-hip hooray! Hip-hip hooray! Hip-hip hooray!

Everyone at some point in their life has wondered about the end of the world, even more so recently with most of History channel’s programs telling us all about the Mayan Calendar and underground bunkers. But how much serious thought have you given it? Would you know to ration your food or to start chopping firewood at the beginning of summer? How would you take a bath? Wash your clothes? Cook food? We’ve all been taught that sharing is caring but what if sharing meant less for your own family?

This is the latest book cover for Life As We Knew It. It's much less girly but still contains a fabulous read for both boys and girls.

What I love most about this book is that Susan Pfeffer doesn’t hold back ANYTHING. The drama and action begins immediately with the reader learning that Miranda’s father and stepmother are about to have a baby and want her to be the godmother. Really?! We meet her friends; boy-crazy Sammi, religious-fanatic Megean, cute boy crush Dan from swim team. Then right when we are starting to feel comfortable with Miranda and her seemingly normal/teen drama filled life BOOM! An asteroid hits the moon knocking it closer to Earth and catastrophe strikes. All this within the first fifty pages, whew!I would love to read this book with a group of tween/teens, friends, and/or family because I think there is so much room for discussion. This book definitely opened my eyes and made me realize how vulnerable I would be should I live post-apocalypse.

Rating: 5/5 stars … This book deserves a bajillion stars! It left me with goose bumps and wanting more. Kids and their parents should read this together because you will definitely want someone to talk to about it.

Similar read: The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer … I try really hard to suggest similar reads not just the next book in the series, but this book was so good all I can think about is getting my hands on the next book!

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