Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dead to You by Lisa McMann

Ethan was abducted when he was seven. He got into a car in front of his house and was gone for nine years. His four year old brother, Blake, was the only witness. Now he has returned to his family as a sixteen year old with no memories of the family he was taken from.

It is an adjustment for them all. He has a little sister born after he was taken, a brother who is mad at him for getting in the car and parents who just want   their family whole again. He also must face the continuous questions of what happened to him while he was gone.

He quickly becomes attracted to the neighbor girl who knew as a boy, but she has a boyfriend who is athletic and popular. She is his only relief the tension in his house.

At times life is almost normal for Ethan, but those moments are few. He wants his memories to come back, but nothing is there. There is no real happy time for the people in this story. Blake and Ethan fight. Ethan's parents are strict about being home on time and checking in frequently.

As I read, I felt Ethan's family was pushing him too fast. A family gathering happens the a few days after he returns and he goes back to school the next Monday. None of it helps Ethan adjust any quicker.

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the author's website.

You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis

I surprised myself by reading this over this past weekend. If this was an action packed book that kept me riveted to the point where I couldn't put it down, I could understand (it probably helped that I had the TV off all day on Sunday). I was drawn into the story which is about a teen girl who discovers her dead mom's phone with seven unanswered messages.

Upon discovering the phone in her mom's still vacant studio, Luna listens to each message and uses it as a puzzle piece to discover what really happened the night her mother died. The phone messages could easily have been a gimmicky tool, but the author uses it well to drive the story. It never becomes the total focus. In fact, Luna only listens to another message after exploring what she discovers in the previous one. 

Luna's dad is a famous film director and her mom was a model. She loved her mom and her unconventional way of life. She always thought her mom and dad were happily married, but a year after her mom's accidental death she is not so sure. Her dad also is not forthcoming about details. His loves Luna, but is afraid to reveal too much. 

The discoveries about her mother allow Luna discover more about herself. She explores her interest in photography and opens herself up to the boy cello player across the street. 

This is a nicely crafted story with a little suspense and a little romance. 

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog and the author's website

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rock On: A Story of Guitars, Gigs, Girls and a Brother (Not Necessarily in That Order) by Denise Vega

Orion is in a band that is yet to be named. Through local appearances and their blog, the band is gaining notice as they work toward the local battle of the bands competition.

Ori is an exceptional guitar player, decent singer and pretty good song writer. He always lived in his brother Del's shadow. Now that his brother has lost his lacrosse scholarship and returned home from college, Ori is dealing once again with Del's Jekyll and Hyde personality. Once Del would have helped Ori with a girl he liked, but now Del sees any girl as an opportunity including Dawn, a friend of the band's new bass player. Del was enthusiastic about Ori's band, but now he is just jealous of its success. 

Ori has the support of his band mates and Alli the band manager (although she doesn't let him get away with much). He is just struggling to find himself and what he wants to be.

I've written before that this is the type of teen book that I like. I enjoy realistic fiction about teens in interesting situations. The rock band aspect is what drew me to this one.

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen catalog, the author's website or Ori's band site.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Think, the Hunger Games, only brutal. In all fairness, this story came before the Hunger Games. It also is only similar in the overall concept of young people being thrown into a situation by their government where they must fight to the death.

In this case, 40 members of a junior high class think they are going on a field trip but wake up in a class room on an island as part of 'the Program.' Everyone in the country of Greater East Asia knows about the annual program since the results are broadcast. Still it is shocking to awake and realize the other students sitting next to you will be killed in the next few hours.

Shuya can't believe that anyone in his class would be willing to kill anyone else. Maybe if they all get together and refuse to participate they can all stop this insane exercise. He teams up with Noriko, the girl his friend had a crush on. He feels compelled to look after her even when she is hurt.

After being released on the island, the students take different paths over the next few days. Some scheme to escape. Some want to destroy the leaders who are making them do it. Some are just hiding hoping it ends soon. Others, in spite of what Shuya may hope, are ready to kill others to win.

The center of the story revolves around Shuya, Noriko and the mysterious loner Shogo as they work together to survive. All the students are mentioned, many in detailed sections describing their own schemes to survive; others are only mentioned at the moment of their deaths.

This is a gripping story for those who don't mind graphic descriptions of violence committed by young people.

For more information about this book, check out the Evergreen library catalog.