Monday, October 26, 2009

The Monstrumologist-- Rick Yancey

Deep in his basement, the Monstromologist hangs an Anthropophagi from hooks. A grave robber knocked on his door in the middle of the night and delivered the beast to the only person he knew that could deal with something so grotesque. The anthropophagi is a hideous beast, profoundly strong, extraordinarily vicious, and it only eats one thing: live human flesh.

Will Henry is a young boy who lives with Dr. Warthrop, the Monstrumologist. He is an orphan, and Dr. Warthrop calls upon him for both mundane and horrifying tasks. Will Henry cooks all the meals and goes to the market, and he also helps Dr. Warthrop dissects monstrous beasts and hunt them down. The story is told through a series of journals Will Henry kept, and readers fall instantly into his world of macabre and midnight horrors.

In my opinion, this book epitomizes what's needed in YA horror right now. With the vampire and werewolf craze upon us, it's always good to find a true horror book that isn't a thin veil for romance. This book can be graphic in its descriptions of blood and guts, and even truly frightening at times, but all of it is appropriate for the genre and the purpose of the book. I would recommend this book to teens who like horror but don't want fluff, fans of Darren Shan's Demonata books (but are also good readers), or to teens who like classic horror like Frankenstein or Dracula.

P.S. Don't you love the cover?
P.P.S. This is a Mock Printz book too!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Distant Waves--Suzanne Weyn

Suzanne Weyn's Distant Waves is being marketed as a story of the Titanic. And, I guess it loosely is... however, to me, it reads more like a story of the paranormal.

The story is told by Jane, one of the 5 Taylor sisters who live in Spirit Vale, a famous clairvoyant community. After a chance meeting with Nikola Tesla, Jane becomes intrigued with all things science and follows his career closely. Her sisters Blythe and Mimi are obsessed with the finer things in life and strive to escape the strangle-hold Spirit Vale has on them. Twins Emma and Amelie are more like their mother who became famous by communicating with the dead. Amelie doesn't speak, but communicates to Emma telepathically, and both girls have some type of true clairvoyance skills. Throughout the book we meet interesting historical characters, like Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry Houdini and more.

It isn't until the end that we see why the subtitle of this book is: A Novel of the Titanic. It was an interesting and well-written piece of historical fiction. But is it really a novel of the Titanic? What do you think?

I would recommend this book to teen girls who liked How it Happened in Peach Hill by Martha Jocelyn, the Luxe series. Oh, and it's on our Mock Printz list.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tales from Outer Suburbia-- Shaun Tan

Shaun Tan's Tales from Outer Suburbia is technically a graphic novel... but honestly to me, it feels more like a picture book for teens. I think teens need more picture books, so I was please to see this one!

Tales is an illustrated short story collection... some stories are told in mostly pictures, and others in mostly words. His art is so fantastical and realistic at the same time. One story is written/illustrated in bits of torn paper. Some of the stories are one-page short, while others take longer to tell. Overall, the collection is sweet, nostalgic somehow, a teensy bit creepy, and all together odd. It's perfect for those teens who mostly read graphic novels but are trying to read longer works and also great for beginning graphic novel readers. We have placed this book on our Mock Printz list, and I am interested to see if people think it's a strong contender!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mock Printz 2010!

A fabulous local school librarian and I collaborate on a Mock Printz event in January. This is our second year, and we are hoping it will be a success! We gather with teachers, teens, and librarians to discuss the ten titles on our list and choose which book we think should win the actual Printz Award.

I thought I would post our reading list here, just in case you wanted to read the books too. It is always a tricky process choosing the books... is it just me, or are all the good books published at the end of the year?? Inevitably, there will be something we missed, but we have to get the list to participants early enough for them to read all 10.

We create our list by frantically reading as much as we can, reading reviews, and gathering opinions of library staff through listserves, etc. I haven't blogged all these books yet, but I will go back and link them when I do. Let me know what you think!

Wintergirls-- Laurie Halse Anderson

If I Stay-- Gayle Foreman

Marcelo in the Real World-- Francisco X. Stork

Andromeda Klein-- Frank Portman

Punkzilla-- Adam Rapp

Distant Waves-- Suzanne Weyn

Tales from Outer Suburbia-- Shaun Tan

When You Reach Me-- Rebecca Stead

The Monstrumologist-- Rick Yancey

Liar-- Justine Larbalestier

Tricks-- Ellen Hopkins

Guess what? Ellen Hopkins will be visiting my library soon! To prepare, I thought I would read her latest book, Tricks. I made the mistake of reading it before bed... and let me tell you, this is not a cheery bedtime read.

Tricks is a verse novel, just like her other works. It's the story of five teens from all over the USA. Even though each teen is vastly different and was raised in a unique way, they're stories all have a similar theme: sometimes sex isn't just about love... sometimes it's about power, freedom, money, punishment, torture, individuality, exploration, or intimacy. And somehow, in the end, the teens' lives intersect in a mostly tragic but slightly hopeful way.

I can't say that I loved this book... I struggle with the verse novel format, and to be honest, I had a hard time keeping the characters straight at first. Still, I know why teens love her: Hopkins writes about real hard living. Some teens are really drawn to the gritty realism she so clearly writes. I would recommend this book to boys or girls who like verse novels, edgy topics, or want to read something about teen prostitution (don't laugh, I've totally been asked for this!!).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Liar--Justine Larbalestier

So the other day at work I was going through massive piles of mail, and there at the bottom of my pile was an ARC of Justine Larbalestier's Liar. There has been lots of chatter on the internets about the cover of this book. The ARC I received had this cover:

Here's the controversy: The main character of the book, Micah, is biracial (her mother is French-American, and her father is African-American) and has very short course, curly hair. Everyone who read the ARC (including the author herself) was outraged by the way the publisher took liberties with the cover. Because of this, the cover now looks like this:

MUCH more accurate in my opinion... it's kind of interesting to read about this controversy, but what I really want to talk about is the book itself... because it's GOOD.

Micah is a pathological liar. This is a very big problem, not just for Micah, but for us-the-readers. You see, this book is told in the first person... everything is narrated by Micah and at the beginning of the book she swears she will tell us the 100% truth-- except she lies to us right out of the gate. She's sorry she lied, but she just can't help it.

Micah believes her lying was passed down through her family genealogy, just like the mysterious body hair she grows and her remarkable running skills. Her classmates, parents, and teachers however do not agree. When the boy with whom Micah was secretly making out and going for midnight runs in central park turns up dead, all eyes are on her. This book is part mystery/thriller, part coming of age story, and a tiny sliver of fantasy.

Oh, and there is a plot twist. That's all I'm saying. I wish I could say more, because there are lots of things I feel like saying about said plot twist, but I am being nice and not spoiling it for you. It's also hard for me to explain why I liked this book so much without telling you all of the book's secrets. So I guess you're just going to have to read it to find out.

I think I liked this book so much because Micah was a truly new character. She is unique, and even though she is totally unreliable as a narrator, it's that added level of mystery that makes the story so compelling. I would recommend this book to teens who like character driven stories, mysteries, and paranormal tales.