Category Archives: Staff Recommends

The Improbable Theory of Ana & Zak by Brian Katcher REVIEW

anaThe Improbable Theory of Ana & Zak by Brian Katcher

Available in Print and eBook format.

Zak and Ana. They shouldn’t even be hanging out together, in Ana’s opinion anyway. Just look at him: shaggy hair and his scruffy attempt at a goatee. He plays role playing games after school; he and his friends even wear goofy hats. And he’s kind of a slacker.

Zak wouldn’t mind hanging out with Ana. Even her frizzy hair is kind of cute. She’s obviously smart. She does seem kind of uptight with all her extra-curricular activities, but that’s why she should have joined in the war game with his friends when Zak invited her.

And how will fate bring them together? Zak messes up a health quiz and, to save his grade, he is forced to join the academic quiz bowl team on their trip to a competition. Ana is the captain of the team. Zak is not looking forward to it, but resigns himself until he realizes the competition is the same weekend as Washingcon, a huge sci-fi convention that Zak has never missed.

A weekend that should have been boring (for Zak) and satisfyingly successful (for Ana) turns into a mess when Ana’s 13 year old brother Clayton (also on the team) decides the sci-fi convention sounds cool enough to see for himself. So he travels the few miles from their hotel to the convention center to see all the things Zak has been describing to him.

Zak has been warned not to leave the hotel and Ana’s parents are way strict (to the point where she has no life outside of anything that will not help her get into college). Having to go in search of Clayton is a huge risk for both of them, but it’s better than telling their teacher.

Their quest at the con is chaotic, dangerous, suspenseful and really funny. They are chased, attacked, insulted, challenged…so many twists that you never know what is going to happen next. But through it all, Zak and Ana discover much about each other and that is really the story.

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

So Cute It Hurts REVIEW

cuteSo Cute It Hurts Vol. 1 by Go Ikeyamada

Available in Print.

Twins, a girl and a boy. They are just so cute. Mitsuru, the boy, likes girls and they love him. He is popular and a strong fighter. Megumu (or Mego), the girl, is a history nerd and gamer. She has two otaku friends who share her interests. Neither twin has ever found true love.

Mitsuru and Mego go to different schools; his all boys and hers all girls. Mitsuru has a week of history quizzes that he needs to pass and Mego is good at history, so he thinks they should trade places for a week. She is reluctant, but has no choice when Mitsuru leaves early for school dressed as her (leaving his clothes and a wig for her to use).

The quizzes are forgotten as the story moves at a rapid pace with the brother and sister having their own adventures in each other’s place. The brother’s school is a rough place where the meeker Mego quickly runs into trouble thanks to her brother. Mitsuru finds Mego’s friends confusing, but nice. He takes on the reigning queen of the school to protect a shy girl being bullied.

Both twins may have found their true loves in accidental encounters but now must interact with them as members of the same sex. How will it all be sorted out? I can’t wait for future volumes to find out.

One must not question the improbability of it all and just fall right in with this fun, wacky story.

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

The Kidney Hypothetical or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days by Lisa Yee REVIEW

KidneyThe Kidney Hypothetical or How to Ruin Your Life in Seven Days by Lisa Yee

Available in Print and eBook format.

Poor Higgs. His life falls apart in one week. Just normal teen angst, you say? No, his whole future might be in jeopardy after this. So how does Higgs Boson Bing (yes, that is his real name) go from being top of his class, captain of the debate team to being the most hated kid in school? It all started with one question…

Heading into the last week of his senior year, Higgs was on the senior boat cruise sitting with his girlfriend, Roo and some friends. Higgs was desperately fighting sea sickness when Roo’s friend, Samantha, proposed the following, “If Roo needed a kidney, would you give her one of yours?” Higgs being the rational, logical thinker that he is (just ask his debate opponents) refused to answer such a ridiculous hypothetical question. Conclusion: Higgs refusal to answer means ‘no,’ therefore Higgs is a horrible, selfish person.

First, the word spread. Then, an all-out campaign to discredit Higgs started. There was no escape…until Higgs wandered off into the forbidden area near the water tower and found Monarch, a quirky, strong-willed girl who is living on her own in an abandoned trailer.

Intriguing – a girl his own age who is living with no rules, no school and no overbearing parents to decide where she will go to college and what her profession will be. And she is so different from Roo. Maybe she is just what Higgs needs.

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

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach REVIEW

weallookedupWe All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach 

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

The world may end as we know it. An asteroid named Ardor is coming to earth. Will it hit or just pass closely? Unknown. Will it change the lives of Peter, Anita, Andy and Eliza? Yes.

Anita wants to be a singer, but her strict parents have done everything to discourage her. For them, it’s all about going to Princeton and becoming a respected professional. Prestige is important to her father.

Peter is an athlete dating a popular girl named Stacy, but he’s not sure why anymore. He kinda accidentally kissed Eliza last year in the school’s dark room. They were seen and word got around quickly. As Peter was dating Stacy at the time, she made sure everyone knew Eliza was a slut.

Eliza loves photography. Her father, who is dying from cancer, encourages her creativity. She likes being on the fringe observing rather than being observed. Getting a reputation and becoming the talk of the school was a nightmare.

Andy is a drug user living in the basement with practically no supervision from his parents. He plays guitar in a band with his friend Bobo. Their music is loud and mostly incomprehensible, but Andy does write other songs, more melodic and personal. He bets Bobo he will no long be a virgin when the world ends.

The lives of these four young people seem interconnected as society falls apart in the (possible) impending disaster. Just like the world, their relationships are in flux. Sometimes they hate each other and other times they need each other. Whatever happens (and I’m not going to tell you), the four are given new opportunities to make their lives better (no matter how short those lives may be).

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

 

Alex As Well by Alyssa Brugman REVIEW

alexAlex As Well by Alyssa Brugman

 Available in Print.

Alex was born with a rare condition that makes her physically both a boy and a girl. When she was very young, her parents decided to raise her as a boy, but at fifteen she knows she’s a girl. She stops taking her hormone medicine and starts wearing girl clothes. Her mother freaks out (as usual) and her dad walks out.

Alex enrolls herself in a new school where no one knows the truth or that she was recently a boy. Her hopes for a clean beginning are dashed when the school asks for a birth certificate. It’s not her fault she was declared a boy at birth, but it is her burden to bear. Alex stops at the first barrister (aka lawyer) she sees to learn how she can change her birth certificate.

Even though Alex lives in constant fear of being discovered, she likes her new school. She meets a group of friends including the beautiful Amina (yes, Alex is crushing on her from their first meeting). She gets the opportunity to be a model and wear amazing clothes and make up. It is such a girly thing to do and Alex loves it.

Alex’s parents have never dealt with her condition in the best way for Alex, and this new decision has pushed them beyond their limits. Her mother (who we follow in her blog posts) is convinced it’s just a phase and Alex is too young to know what ‘he’ really wants. Her judgment is questionable at best. Alex’s father tries and is more accepting but still struggles with the change. Of course, guilt is weighing on them as well.

Alex has had a tough road and it’s never going to be as easy as it should be. Society has a difficult time dealing with things that do not mesh with the perceived norm. Alex is just another teen with more obstacles than most struggling to find her place in the world.

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

Follow Alyssa Brugman on Twitter and GoodReads.