Sunday, May 25, 2014

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

A new dystopian novel! Earth Girl is set on Earth in the very far future. Many planets have been explored and are now home to humans- interplanet travel is easily accessible and people are free to go from planet to planet. Except for a few handicapped people- when they are born on another planet, they have a matter of minutes before they will die, unless they make it to Earth. Earth is now home to all of these handicapped people-they are considered to be a inferior group of people and people on other planets poke fun at them and pity them. Jarra is a young girl who is very resentful of her lower status, when she is given the choice of post-secondary education, she choose one that will put her in direct contact with those who consider her less. She goes into the situation hoping to fool them all and then when she has proven her worth, she will let them all know how wrong they are. But as Jarra gets to know these people from other planets, she is surprised to discover that they are just like her, they have their doubts about their abilities and their life path. Soon Jarra must decide how to live the rest of her life, even when it goes against everything she has ever believed. There were many parts of this story that I really enjoyed. Trying to understand what was happening and the history of the future of earth (if that makes any sense) was very difficult and seemed unnecessary at times. Jarra is a great character- she is tough- like Katniss and Tris and she has something to prove. I love female characters like that! The story was hard to follow in some spots- it is really hard to visualize the work Jarra did, but at the same time, it was quite interesting as well. I will recommend this book- to both boys and girls- I can see both enjoying the story. I think one of the best parts about this book is that it ended within the book, that means I don't have to wait for a sequel and to try and remember what happened in the first book. And for that alone- it is a great read!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Slated by Teri Terry

Pulled this one off the pile of TBR that is sitting in my den yesterday. I love dystopian novels and sometimes it is hard to keep finding new ones to read. This story is set in the future- a world where if you don't agree with the government, or you are a criminal, and under the age of 16 you can be slated. This is basically a reboot- all of your memories are wiped clean. You are given a new name, new family and a device called a Levo that monitors your emotions. Any time you are too happy, too angry, too sad, your Levo sends reports to your doctor. If you get too low, you go into convulsions and can die. The idea is to just get along,not get involved and at all costs, stay out of trouble. We meet Kyla 9 months after she has been slated. She is going home to her new family, a mother, sister and father. She is trying her best to fit in and stay low. But then things start to happen around her that have her questioning her memories, her friends and new information she is learning. Kyla must decide how to react to these things. Should she do what is expected, or do what her heart and mind are telling her? As with any dystopian book, it takes a bit of time to understand the world that is being described. It is sometimes hard to figure it all out. It also seems to me that dystopian novels are now purposely being written to span three books, so I finished this one dying to know what is going to happen next. And now I have to wait until August- where I will have forgotten the plot of this one. I find that a bit frustrating. However, I did enjoy this book. There is excitement, drama, a bit of romance and teenage angst as well. All in all, a nice quick read with a good plot.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Maybe I Will by Laurie Gray

Maybe I Will is a powerful story about how one event can change a persons life and the courage and strength it takes to recover from something. The main character in this story is Sandy. Sandy has two very close friends and the three of them do everything together. But one night something happens to Sandy and suddenly, things have changed between these friends. The story is about how Sandy tries to move forward in life. I'm finding this review a bit challenging to write, because of information that is revealed on the last page, after the story has been told. I would highly recommend this book- but I'm not sure it is appropriate elementary students. High school students for sure. I would suggest adults read this book first before giving it to their students. I can see this book being used in a literature circle because the discussion would be incredibly rich and diverse. All I can say is that I enjoyed reading it as an adult, and know that I want someone else to read it so I can talk to them about it.

Monday, May 12, 2014

This is How I Find Her by Sara Polsky

I loved this book! It deals with some pretty heavy issues, but it handles it in such an honest, compelling way. The story starts with Sophie coming home from school and finding her mother lying on her bed with a bottle of pills beside her. The story then continues with the reader learning what life has been like for Sophie who has had the responsibility of taking care of her mother who struggles with mental health- being biopolar and depression. Sophie has isolated herself from her friends and has shouldered taking care of her mother- which isn't easy or fair. After her mother's overdose, Sophie has a glimpse of what life might be like without her mother. The range of emotions she goes through is incredible. She struggles to fit in and still try to understand how she can help her mother without losing herself. I found this book to be so moving. Sophie's maturity coupled with her insecurities makes her an incredible character to get to know. All I could think of as I was reading this book was how as teachers we don't always know what goes on in the homes of our students. It also reminded me to look beyond the hurtful words and lashing out to truly see what is behind a person's motives. This book is appropriate for kids grade 7 and up. I wouldn't hesitate to have it in my classroom, but it would also fit in a high school library as well.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Panic by Lauren Oliver

I've read a few books by Oliver and have enjoyed them all. This book is set in a poor town in New York. Kids have a real sense of hopelessness when they finish high school. The lack of money really impacts what the future has in store for them. But one graduating senior has a chance to make a great deal of money and have a future outside of the town. All they have to do is win at the game called Panic. Panic is a game that challenges your courage and your ability to overcome the panic you feel when faced with a scary situation. Every senior must pay the entrance fee, but not every senior has to compete, that choice is yours. Heather never had any intention of joining in the game. She had been watching for years, watching kids die or get in terrible accidents. But at the last minute, she finds herself declaring her entry into the game. Then there is Dodge, who has been waiting for the last several years to participate in the game. He is fearless and knows he has what it takes to win. WAs the stakes get higher and higher and the challenges get scarier and scarier, Heather and Dodge find themselves unlikely allies as they both strive to win at all costs. I enjoyed reading this book, although as a mother, the idea of teens competing in this type of game scared the heck out of me. Heather and Dodge are like so many young adults, trying to figure out who they are and where they fit in with the world. As the main characters are high school seniors, there is some content that is meant for older students. But having said that, there is nothing that would stop me from putting it in an intermediate classroom.