Review for John Green’s Paper Towns

paper*Paper Towns* by John Green. Speak (Penguin Books), 2008.

Available in Print, CD Audiobook, Downloadable Audiobook, and E-book.

Another excellent and thoughtful teen novel from author of the best-selling *The Fault in Our Stars.* It was also a winner of the Edgar Award for best young adult mystery novel.

Quentin is a high school senior in Orlando, Florida. His next door neighbor is the dynamic, charismatic Margo. They were good friends when they were 10 but by the time they got to high school, he was in NerdLand and she was a school leader. He is still fixated on her. A few weeks before graduation, she climbs into his second story window and drags him off for a night of adventures, getting revenge on her cheating boyfriend and other people, and breaking into SeaWorld, just to say they did. She complains how she hates living in this paper town with all the paper people. Quentin is hoping this will be the start of something between them; but the next day Margo does not show up for school. She has left a cryptic, depressed note and a lot of clues. Quentin fears she may have been contemplating suicide, and he talks several friends into helping him track through the clues. As he does, he begins to realize that he has kept this idealized image of Margo in his head for years; but he has no idea what she is really like. To track her down, he will have to learn who she really is – and to discover a lot more about himself.

Excellent dialogue and characters, with some hilarious scenes, will keep teen readers galloping along; but the philosophy and wisdom is what will stick with them. Walt Whitman’s *Leaves of Grass* provides a lot of the clues and subtext for the story (and gave me a better understanding of the work, too). A challenging book in a lot of ways, not necessarily as a hard read, but as a book which challenges the reader to move toward adulthood.

*The Fault in our Stars* is probably more universal in its appeal to both teen and adult readers; but anyone who likes books for this age group will like this, too. A film version of *Paper Towns* will be released this summer.

Reviewer ~ Steve Bridge, retired children’s librarian

Librarian Beth Pintal Reviews Half Bad by Sally Green

half badHalf Bad by Sally Green

Available in Print and E-book.

The world is divided in so many ways in this book – witch and human (or Fain as the witches call them), black witches and white witches….but what happens to someone who is half black witch and half white witch?  Nathan is the only one so divided, and his father is the most hated black witch in the world.  Which side of him is more powerful?  Is Nathan destined to be evil, or, because the so-called “good” white witches presume he is already evil, will he be turned that way due to their abominable treatment of him?  And what of the prophesy that he will kill his father?  Does he even want to?  After being held captive by the White Council, Nathan escapes, but now what?  Where do you go when the world is against you?
The second book in this trilogy, Half Wild, comes out in March 2015.

You Know You Wanna Read It Review: The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

truthThe Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Available in Print.

Can rumors destroy you? Can your reputation be so ruined by others that you can no longer function? Alice was popular and now she is called horrible names and shunned. One party started it all and the death of the star quarterback made it worse.

Alice lives in a small Texas town where football is everything. So when there is no game, what else is there to do? Parties are not those huge deals you see in the movies where hundreds of teens pack a house. Mostly, people (the popular upperclassmen and a select few of younger teens) hang out and drink. Occasionally, something big happens like at Elaine’s party where Alice had sex with two guys in the same night. Brandon, one of the guys himself, said it so it must be true.

Kelsie didn’t go to the party (she was ill), but she has been Alice’s best friend for…well, since she moved to Texas from Michigan. She was such a nerd back then and decided to start over in her new home. Alice was the first one to speak to her and they have been friends ever since – until the party. How could she risk losing her semi-popular status by staying linked to Alice who is ridiculed be everyone?

Josh is Brandon’s best friend. He was in the car when Brandon crashed and died. It was Alice’s fault. She kept sexting him. It was that distraction that caused the crash. Josh can’t keep that kind of info to himself, so now everyone in town knows (including the adults).

Kurt has been crushing on Alice for a long time. He is very smart and keeps to himself. Yes, he lives next door to Brandon, but Brandon would never admit to speaking to Kurt civilly (like he sometimes does when they are by themselves). And that’s just fine with Kurt. He doesn’t care about the rumors or whether they are true. He just wants to help Alice.

Through the alternating voices of Elaine, Kurt, Josh and Kelsie, we learn about the events leading up to the party and the accident. They each have their own motives and perspectives. What do they reveal and to whom? And is it too late for Alice?

Review by Will Smither, Indy PL Librarian and Teen Services Committee. You Know You Wanna Read It Blog.

 

The Giver, by Lois Lowry

The GiverImagine living in a world where everything is the Same. There is no color. There is no weather. There are no hills. There is no sunshine, wind, or rain. The world is defined by Sameness. Everything is controlled, from when you got your first bike (age 9), to when you are assigned your role in the community (age 12). People are “released” when they are too old. If twins are born, the “runt” is “released.” Sexuality and reproduction is controlled. This is the world that Jonas lives in.

When Jonas turns 12, he is selected to become the Receiver. There is only one Receiver at a time, and the current Receiver who “trains” him becomes “The Giver.”

At the same time that Jonas is selected to be the new Receiver, his father (a Nurturer) brings home a “baby” named Gabriel who has the same light-colored eyes as Jonas. There’s something special about Gabriel, and when the decision is made to release him because of his constant fussiness at night, Jonas must decide if he is going to step in and try to save Gabriel.
Will Jonas make the decision to try to escape with Gabriel to Elsewhere? Will they start a new life there? Or perish?

The Giver, by Lois Lowry, was reviewed by Michelle Frost.

The movie version comes out August 15th. You can view a trailer here.

The Giver on Facebook.

The Giver on Twitter.

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (2 reviews)

Our first review is by your fellow teen Sara: I DON’T WANT TO SPOIL THE BOOK FOR ANYONE. SO I WILL JUST SAY THAT IT WAS AN AMAZING. FILLED WITH AMAZING DETAILS AND AMAZING CHARACTERS. YOU HAVE GOT TO READ THAT BOOK.

And now a review from librarian Michael Perry:

The Book Thief
“Here’s a small fact: You’re going to die.”
Sometimes a story gets written that endures past the “flash in a pan” stage. There have been some great series that have lasted for a decade or more. Remember “The Princess Diaries”? the whole “Gossip Girl” series? Sure they were fun to read, but if you are thinking of really great books, you probably would be talking about Scott Westerfield’s “the Uglies” series or Stephanie Meyer’s “Twilight” series or just about anything by John Green.

Keeping that in mind, here’s a book from 2006 that you really have to read. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

Told with Death (Yup, Death itself!) as the narrator, this book takes place during World War II in Nazi Germany and explores the life of Liesel, a young girl who ends up in a foster home. At her brother’s funeral, she steals a gravedigger’s handbook. Here’s the twist. Liesel can’t read! Her foster father finds the title and then teaches her to read. Later, during a book burning in the center of town, the mayor is the only one who sees Liesel snatch a book from the pile. He takes a chance with her and shows her his dead son’s library. And there’s more.
The book is fantastic, one of the few that really put you in the place and time of the plot. Liesel comes alive through the pages and you will find yourself staying up into the late hours of the night as you turn pages, following her life.

Get this one. You’ll be glad you did.

The Book Thief on e-book
In addition to the book (on paper) we have this title as a downloadable e-book, a downloadable audiobook and an audiobook on CD. It came out as a movie in late 2013 and was released this spring on DVD and Blu-ray.