Here’s a good fast-paced young adult novel to try. The main character is a warrior girl, but instead of living in the time of knights and ladies, this story takes place closer to modern or near future times.
Miranda finds herself in a mall, with no memory of anything beyond her name. When she asks the mall cop for help, he thinks she’s just playing games with him. As she tries to explain, her head begins to hurt until at last the pain radiates outward. She is horrified to see people flee in fear. Unsure what’s going on, she scans the panicking crowd until she sees a guy her age just watching her.
He tells her his name is Peter, and that he knows her. Because he says he can explain what just happened, Miranda follows him to an underground bunker in the forest.
She discovers that she is part of a team of four genetically engineered kids who are being trained as “crowd control weapons.” One of the side effects of the gene therapy is memory loss, which is countered by taking medicine. She was taken off the medicine without her knowledge by one of her teammates, Noah. Noah and the fourth member of their team, Olive, have gone missing.
Miranda and Peter must locate their missing comrades and bring them back to the facility. But in the process they uncover the lies they have been told about their true purpose and how they came to exist. Lots of twists and turns and double-crosses keep the action moving. And the fight sequences are engaging and detailed.
Check the WRL catalog for False Memory
Jennifer D. shares this review:
The town of Beau Rivage is filled with fairy tale characters. There are princes and princesses, beasts and mermaids, fairies and wolves, huntsmen and match girls – but they all take the form of average citizens. All that would distinguish the teens in this tale from normal teens is a “märchen mark” or birthmark that identifies their role and destiny. Mira has a birthmark on her back that resembles a wheel, but never knew its meaning until she traveled to Beau Rivage, the town where she was born.
The only life Mira can remember is living with her extremely overprotective godmothers. Her sixteenth birthday is only a week away and she is determined to spend it in her hometown and to find her parents’ graves. Having concocted an elaborate plan to elude her godmothers, Mira arrives in Beau Rivage and quickly makes the acquaintance of two brothers, Felix and Blue Valentine. While they couldn’t be more different (Felix is helpful and attentive, Blue is rude and obnoxious), Mira finds herself strangely drawn to both of them. Felix promises to help Mira find her parents’ graves, but Blue is focused on getting Mira out of town, and away from Felix, as fast as possible. Mira, however, will not be swayed from either her task or Felix’s attentions. It does seem strange, though, that no one will explain the meaning of the Valentine brothers’ heart-shaped märchen marks. What fairy tale roles do they play? What role will Mira play in their stories?
In Kill Me Softly, Sarah Cross puts a contemporary and highly entertaining spin on traditional fairy tales. Fans of the Grimms’ most gruesome stories will find much to enjoy in this modern mash-up of some of their greatest creations. While Mira’s story comes to a close in this book, the intricate mythology Cross has created for the town of Beau Rivage could potentially lend itself to a sequel.
Check the WRL catalog for Kill Me Softly.
Tamora Pierce is an award-winning and bestselling fantasy author of young adult literature. She has written stand alone books and short stories as well as multiple series. Her first young adult novel, published in 1983, was Alanna, the First Adventure.
This story opens with Alanna and her twin brother Thom unhappy about their father’s decision to send them away for school. It’s not that they don’t want to leave home and have new experiences, it’s that they wish their father would consider what they want to do.
Alanna doesn’t want to go to a convent and learn all the boring necessities of being a lady. She wants to be a knight, a warrior maiden. And Thom really doesn’t enjoy sword fighting and battle strategy, he’d rather be a great sorcerer.
The two decide to take their fates into their own hands and switch places. With the help of two dedicated servants, Alanna heads to Duke Gareth of Naxen as “Alan of Trebond” to serve as a page while Thom goes to the City of Gods to study magic. Their negligent father is none the wiser.
Alanna pays attention and learns her lessons well. She also shows she has a strong character and doesn’t let others fight her battles. Mixed in with the lessons and sword fights are court politics, sorcery, and the continual stress of hiding her true nature from her friends. I kept expecting her secret to be revealed at every new scene — how long would the boys believe that “Alan” was just a small-framed boy with a fear of swimming with the group?
Alanna is a great role model — she embodies all the good qualities of a knight — but the book ends before she completes her training. You’ll have to keep reading the series! And don’t think just because Alanna has the makings of a hero that she’s boring. There is plenty of mischief to keep the story clipping along.
Check the WRL catalog for Alanna, the First Adventure
Jennifer D. shares this review:
The first thing you have to do before reading this book is accept its hard-to-believe premise. Set in the present day, NASA scientists want to boost interest in the fading space program by sending three teenagers into space. If you can get past the fact that NASA scientists would never think this was a good idea, much less that it actually comes to pass, then you’ll enjoy this book. What makes the plot a bit easier to swallow is that NASA actually has a hidden agenda. They need an excuse to send another team of astronauts to the moon, and the media circus surrounding the worldwide teen astronaut contest will mask the true purpose of the mission. NASA needs to find out if what Armstrong and Aldrin encountered in 1969 is still up there.
The three teens, Midori from Japan, Mia from Norway, and Antoine from France are chosen, trained, and sent into space along with a crew of five astronauts. The majority of the plot takes place after the team has reached the moon, however one significant event occurs to each of the three teens before takeoff. They each have an experience that is unexplained and unsettling and which almost convinces them not to go through with the mission. Someone (or something) doesn’t want humans back on the moon, and from the moment the team lands things begin to go horribly wrong. Events occur at a breakneck pace and the suspense builds to a stunning conclusion.
172 Hours on the Moon is an excellent sci-fi horror story/psychological thriller and one of the creepiest books I’ve ever read. It continued to occupy my thoughts for days after I finished reading. The atmosphere is intense, drawing from the isolation of being alone on the moon accompanied by only a few others with extremely limited resources. And then the enemy reveals itself.
Check the WRL catalog for 172 Hours on the Moon.
Jessica shares this review:
Seventeen-year-old Sophie Crue lives the life of any normal teenager…she argues with her father, questions her parents’ divorce, and has a bit of trouble fitting in with her step-mom and half siblings. But everything changes when Sophie receives a mysterious and alarming email from her mother. According to the note her mother is in trouble and needs her help immediately. Sophie doesn’t think twice before hoping on a plane and heading to Guam, her childhood home, the one she shared with her parents when they were still married and working together as doctors. But from the moment she lands things start to go wrong. None of the local pilots will fly her out to the feared and isolated Skin Island her mother works on. In fact, none of them will say a word about it, other than a warning to steer clear.
When Sophie finally finds a young and daring pilot who might accept, she realizes he is her best friend from childhood, Jim Julian…though in a very grown-up and attractive form. He begrudgingly agrees to the trip but when they land on Skin Island he immediately knows they’ve made a terrible decision. Sophie’s mother is nowhere in sight and there’s no indication she was expecting them…not to mention the plane was damaged on landing by something on the landing strip. As they branch from the plane and get closer to the islands activity hub they stumble upon an even more startling discovery. The scientists are experimenting on human embryos, and creating Vitros; humans that have been altered and raised in tanks until their teenage years when they emerge fully grown. But as more and more questions begin to arise and the danger for Sophie and Jim becomes all too apparent the reader has to ask…how will these two ever survive all that the island and the morally questionable Corpus company has to throw at them?
Also, check out Khoury’s previously published YA novel, Origin.
Check the WRL catalog for Vitro.
The country of Illéa is divided into thirty-five provinces whose citizens are divided into one of eight castes. They range from Ones – the country’s royal family, to Eights – those who live on the street and have no way to support themselves. America Singer of Carolina is a Five – those with a creative ability such as singing, dancing, or acting. She has no particular aspirations of upward mobility. She only wants to perform, help support her family, and hopefully become the wife of secret love Aspen Leger. The only problem with her plan is that Aspen is a Six – a servant, and doesn’t want to be responsible for bringing America down a level. Then, when Maxon Schreave, Prince of Illéa announces that he will be choosing a wife, suddenly everything changes. It is time for the Selection.
By law, Maxon must marry a “Daughter of Illéa,” in other words, a commoner. One woman from each province will be chosen to travel to the castle to be courted by Maxon, and one will become his wife and eventual Queen of Illéa. Both Aspen and America’s mother are adamant that she enter the Selection. America eventually agrees, both to appease Aspen and because her mother has offered a very attractive bribe. She is certain the odds of being selected are extremely low, but if that were the case, we wouldn’t have much of a story to read, would we?
America becomes one of the Selected and must cope with being away from her family, her friendly and not so friendly fellow contestants, the rebels who routinely attack the castle, and the fact that portions of the Selection are televised for the nation to see. Oh, and that she likes Maxon much more than she ever thought she would. Making matters even more difficult, Aspen dumps her before she leaves Carolina, but she is still very much in love with him. One thing America has going for her is that she is no shrinking violet, which Maxon finds quite appealing. Readers will find it appealing, too. You will root for her, feel her pain, and be proud when she stands her ground.
Check the WRL catalog for The Selection.
Lizzy shares this review:
Divergent is a novel that drags you to the future of the world. It describes how after a war people divided themselves into five groups. Each group has a quality they represent (Abnegation: The Selfless, Candor: The Honest, Erudite: The Intelligent, Amity: The Peaceful, Dauntless: The Brave). The story centers on a 16 year old girl who lives in Abnegation. When she goes to take her test (to see what faction she tends towards) she learns she’s special; she’s Divergent. The test proctor tells her to never tell anyone. The characters that form are un-believably amazing. Readers are easily attached to them thanks to the author spending time developing them. The setting helps the reader understand the personalities of the factions they are in. Abnegation members are known as “Stiffs” and live in plain houses. The Dauntless live in a dark pit which leads to a tense atmosphere. The plot seems to keep you hanging over a building as you wait to be dropped. The mix of danger and emotion keeps the reader wanting more. In conclusion, Divergent is an excellent book for young adults and older.
Check the WRL catalog for Divergent.
Jan shares this review:
A very important question for people who love to read is, can the sequel ever be as good as first book? And in this case the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’!
I blogged on Mike Mullin’s debut novel Ashfall previously, and I have been anticipating reading the sequel Ashen Winter ever since. In Ashfall a supervolcano erupted under Yellowstone National Park and sixteen year old Alex sets off on an odyssey from his home in Iowa to find his family in Illinois. The ash has destroyed the plants, killed the livestock (from breathing the ash), and poisoned the water. In Ashfall some people are kind, and Alex meets Darla who will become the love of his life. Ten months on in Ashen Winter people’s desperation is growing. No summer came, possibly presaging the beginning of an unbelievably long and cold volcanic winter. Stored food is running out, and the last supplies of necessities we take for granted like antibiotics and gasoline are also running out. Alex struggles to stay true to the values he didn’t even know he had. In a world full of human cruelty and even cannibalism he wants to save everyone who is innocent. Even his previously mild, spineless father resorts to violence leading Alex to think, “The disaster had warped the landscape of our minds – perhaps even more than it had altered the physical landscape.”
Ashen Winter is as dark as Ashfall and goes at the same breakneck pace. The problems of survival are just as intense, and the characters continue to change and grow in a believable way. I find some apocalyptic books, movies or TV series fascinating in the beginning as the characters deal with how to survive their disasters. Then too many of them descend into soap opera, where the story centers around who is hooking up with whom, rather than who will actually be able to survive to be able to hook up with anyone.
Check the WRL catalog for Ashen Winter