Friday, July 6, 2018

Rewind by Carolyn O'Doherty

Alex is a spinner meaning she can rewind time to view past events (but no more than a day or so). The world fears spinners so she and the others are locked up together in a facility. On those rare occasions when they are allowed to go out, they must wear a band that keeps them from rewinding time.

Upside to being a spinner: they assist the police in solving and preventing crimes. Alex is one of the better ones, so she gets to help with murders and bomb attempts.

Downside: spinners eventually get the disease and die before they are 20 years old. And they have a implanted chip that tracks them.

Alex is happy with her assigned police officer, Agent Ross. He is not afraid of her abilities and sees their potential in helping him track a criminal he has wanted to catch for a long time. Ross even bends some rules so Alex can help.

But it's a dangerous world when you are pursuing powerful criminals in a world where most people do not like your powers already. Even the facility is not safe when Alex can't trust the staff to do what is in her and the others' best interests. KJ, her best friend, is the only person she truly trusts, but things have been strained between them since he has shown interest in another girl.

Can Alex avoid the disease and help catch a killer? Or will Alex have to escape from her confined world? And who will help her?

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site

All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

It's been a while since I read this. I am finding it difficult to describe. I really enjoyed it, but is so different from what I normally read. About 40 pages in, I almost stopped reading it. It was just a little too odd. I liked the author's language and unusual descriptions enough to keep going. And I am glad that I did.

Miracles happen. In this small Colorado town, they really do. So much so that people come from all over to have miracles performed for them. What they don't know is that they must finish the miracle themselves or forever be stuck in some in between state. For example, one lady is in a perpetual state of being rained upon. Wherever she goes, whatever she does she has a rain cloud over her head.

The miracles are performed by one chosen member of the community. Once the miracle is performed, the members of the community must never talk to (or show concern for) the ones in limbo or they might find themselves stuck as well.

So that's just the basic explanation. There is a lot going on in this book. But the narrative is driven by two strangers who come to the small village. One looking for a miracle and one just looking for a truck he was told he could get. Someone showing up who is not looking for a miracle never happens, and it creates changes in ways no one could have foreseen.

This is an incredible book with a setting, characters and story I could come up with on my own. Really amazing.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

Game Theory by Barry Jonsberg

Jamie loves math. Recently, he has become interested in game theory, the strategy of determining your opponent's actions. He practices it with his clever, precocious younger sister, Phoebe.

Jamie's older sister, Summerlee, buys a lottery ticket on her 18th birthday and wins 7.5 million dollars. Already rebellious, the money causes her to break free of her family. Against her parents' advice, Summerlee lets the world know that she won and goes on a spending spree.

One day when Jamie and Phoebe go to the grocery store together, Phoebe is kidnapped. The sudden horror and remorse Jamie feels is gut wrenching. Phoebe is the best of the family. Even Summerlee who can be nasty to anyone is never cross with Phoebe.

Is the kidnapping related to Summerlee's sudden financial windfall? No one knows for sure, but they do know that the kidnapper(s) will only speak with Jamie. Maybe he can use game theory to outwit the kidnapper and get Phoebe back. But dealing with the kidnapper without the police is a risk.

This is a story filled with tension and suspense. So if you are looking for something with some mystery that is a little different, check this one out.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Surface Tension by Mike Mullin

Jake loves being on his bike. He lives for it. He is an amateur competitive cyclist and is hoping to make the USA team and go to Belgium. Jake also has a beautiful girlfriend. So his life is pretty good. Until...

Jake is riding one morning on what are normally deserted roads when he encounters a group of tanker trucks. It is his misfortune that the trucks are part of a terrorist attack that brings down an airplane leaving the nearby airport. Without giving too much away, let's just say that Jake wakes up in the hospital with no memory of what happened.

Betsy's life is pretty good, too. Her mother disappeared along time ago, but her dad has given her goals. She wants to become the first female member of the Sons of Paine, a patriotic group who want to make the United States a better place. Her dad is an important member and gives her a task to prove herself - killing the only witness to the plane crash, a guy about her age named Jake who managed to escape.

The author has written a suspenseful tale of a young man who is in danger at almost every turn. The terrorists want him dead, and the FBI wants him for questioning. It becomes difficult for Jake to know who he can trust. And since so many people think his head injury is causing him to hallucinate or remember things that never happened, no one really trusts him.

We also get the viewpoint of Betsy, a young women who has grown up learning to hate Muslims and thinks nothing of killing innocent people for the end goal of finally eradicating them from the United States. But all is not what it seems even for a young women willing to commit terrorism.

A bonus for me is that this story is set in Indianapolis and mentions many places. I know the city well, so I enjoyed having the characters go to so many specific locations.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

Friday, March 16, 2018

She Myself and I by Emma Young

After months of recovery, Rosa wakes up to a face she doesn't recognize and a body not entirely her own. Rosa was paralyzed from the neck down, but now she can move freely after her brain was transplanted into the body of another young woman named Sylvia who drowned.

Up until now, Rosa has lived a mostly solitary life with her parents, loving older brother and a few online friends. Before being confined to her wheelchair, she went to school and had friends, but that slowly all went away.

Rosa's mother, a doctor, found hope in a new, radical operation that takes the family from their home in England to Boston. Rosa will be the first person ever to have her brain transplanted. But during her time confined in the hospital, Rosa begins to wonder who Sylvia was. What was she like? Did she have friends? What were her hobbies? Even though both families signed a confidentiality agreement, Rosa must know more about Sylvia.

For the first time in a long time, Rosa is able to move but does not have the freedom to go anywhere outside the hospital. When she secretly takes those steps, she meets someone who might be able to help her discover who Sylvia was.

Rosa's story is not a gruesome tale of horror, but about a girl trying to find her identity. Rosa can't decide if she is still herself or the girl whose body she inhabits. Is she a fraud, a freak? Only she can find the answers in this fascinating story about tragedy and hope (and a bit of romance).

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

Eliza has created a monster - actually several of them. She is the writer/artist of a hugely popular online fantasy graphic novel called Monstrous Sea. But only a small group of people know she is the creator.

Eliza's two younger brothers know, but (annoying as they are to her) don't tell anyone. Her parents think Monstrous Sea is just a hobby, and have no idea how popular it is or that Eliza makes tons of money from it. Eliza has two online friends (who she has never actually met) who moderate her message boards, run the online store, etc. That's all the people who know.

Having no interest in physical activities like sports (much to her parents' frustration) or friends from school (her parents aren't too happy about that either), Eliza devotes most of her time to Monstrous Sea. She knows there are many fans even in her school, but she keeps to herself so she never interacts with them. That ends the day she steps in to help a new student, Wallace.

Wallace is the size of a football player and never says anything. It is only through passing notes that Eliza finds out that he writes Monstrous Sea fan fiction. His friends are huge fans, too. But Eliza can't reveal who she is to them. She wants to tell Wallace but how will he react?

The secrets, the expectations of fans, her parent's lack of understanding all put much pressure on Eliza. She truly has created a monster that could consume her if she lets it.

It is a interesting story about dealing with online fame and privacy. Who does an artist create for - herself or the public? Explore this question with Eliza as she deals with the regular stress of being a teenager - it's worth it.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This is sadly a book for our time. A young African American man is shot and killed by a white police officer. The man did nothing to provoke the shooting. Protests and riots follow. The police officer is held up to the community as a fine man with a family, while the victim is called a thug and drug dealer.

We see this all through Starr's eyes. She is with Khalil when he is shot. They were close as children and ended up leaving a party together when the police officer pulled up to their car.

Starr walks in two worlds: her home life in Garden Heights and her school life at a nearly all white private school she attends. She and her brother were sent there to get them away from the dangers and temptations of the neighborhood. Starr's dad used to be a gang member. He worked hard to get out and doesn't want his children getting involved.

What is so compelling about this story is it gives a view of the victim's life. Without getting too involved in the unfortunate politics of real life shootings, it seems the victims rarely get their perspective fully explained. Starr is the witness: to the shooting, to Khalil's life, to the subsequent reaction of her white classmates, to the neighborhood gang members, to the police. She is our eyes.

This a powerful story that should cause all who read it think about where we are as a society and how we treat each other.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Protected by Claire Zorn

Hannah's sister, Katie, died in an accident, and Hannah was there. Almost a year later, her family is still suffering. Her father was injured in the accident and will never be physically the same again. Her mother has checked out of life spending hours laying in bed and hardly eating. With the pending trial of her father (did he cause the accident?), her parents relationship becomes more tense.

Katie was beautiful and confident. She was stylish and hung without whoever she wanted to. Hannah is quiet and likes to read. When Hannah started getting bullied at school, Katie told Hannah to stick up for herself. Hannah just wanted Katie to defend her.

At the beginning of freshman year, Hannah's best friend, Charlotte, was accepted by the popular girls. Hannah tried to be accepted but instead became their target. After awhile, Hannah and Charlotte were no longer friends.

So even though the bullying stopped after Katie died, Hannah is still very much alone. When a transfer student starts paying attention to Hannah, she is skeptical about what he really wants.

Hannah's story is heartbreaking, but hopeful. Even though she will never get her sister back, she might be able to find her own path and have a life of her own.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

Friday, December 1, 2017

All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis

In the future, everything has a cost. Literally, every word spoken must be paid for. You can speak all you want until you turn 15. Then you are given a wrist band that records all the money you owe (it also tracks you and your activities). If you are poor, you hope you can get some sponsors that will provide you with food or other needs. But you may get sued (it happens swiftly and often) and owe so much that you get taken way to be an indentured servant in some horrible job you will never escape from.

Speth lives with her sister and brother in a tiny apartment (created with 3-D printers). Their parents were taken when their debt became too big. Speth is preparing to turn fifteen and make her official speech (sprinkled with references to sponsors) in front of friends. But something happens just before she reaches the stage that changes her life. In a last minute decision, she decides she will no long talk. No speech. No sponsors. No words. No gestures (since most cost money, too).

Powerful people take notice of Speth. Words are currency and if you refuse to speak, the system begins to crack. At their own risk, some people choose to join Speth in her silence. She never intended to start a movement. If she can't speak, how can Speth protect her sister (who loses her job because she looks like a famous actress and is thus infringing on her copyright) and her brother who has yet to turn 15.

When you lose the ability to speak, you lose the ability to speak out. At least that is what the people in power must think because the never counted on a girl choosing to be silent becoming the voice of the oppressed. There are others in society who are more than willing to help Speth fight the system.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

As I write this, the news is filled with stories of prominent, powerful men being exposed as sexual harassers. For all the progress women have made, many men still treat women as objects, conquests and prizes. It feels as if we are currently having a shift in attitudes. Hopefully, this story can  help.

Last year, Lucy was raped at a party by some members of the football team, but no one would believe her. The law looked the other way. The boys are still free and continue to harass other girls. Lucy was persecuted so much that her family left town.

Grace has just moved to the same town and now lives in Lucy's old house. Her family move to Oregon from Kentucky when her mom was deemed too progressive to be the minister of their church. Grace finds Lucy's pleas for help scratched into the wood work in her bedroom and wonders what happened.

Grace finds Rosina and Erin at her new school sitting all be themselves at lunch and joins them. She asks them about Lucy. Erin doesn't want talk about it, and Rosina is tired of hearing about it. Besides, they both have their own issues.

Rosina spends all of her 'free' time working in her family's restaurant and babysitting the many young children of her family members. Her mom is constantly critical of her no matter what she does. And she is a lesbian in a school that is not so accepting of such things.

Erin is autistic. She is obsessed with undersea life and Star Trek: the Next Generation. They allow her to escape from the things in life that make her anxious. For all her mom has read about autism, she still does not seem to understand what Erin really needs sometimes.

Together, the girls decide (with some reluctance) to push back against the 'boys will be boys' attitude of the school and the town. The invite other girls to a meeting to talk about Lucy and their own experiences. The gathering leads to the Nowhere Girls, a group that includes members of every clique. The group decides action is needed to stop girls from being harassed. Taking a stand is a risk and often scary, but they know they are doing the right thing.

I hope this book empowers young women and men and helps educate them in the way we all should behave. That showing respect is something we all deserve. That no one is entitled to make others uncomfortable. And that physical interaction and sexual intimacy is about consent from both people involved.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.