Tag Archives: teen

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys by Gerard Way and Shaun Simon (2014)

killjoysGerard Way and Shaun Simon’s piece is not your run-of-the-mill graphic novel; its story chronologically takes place after My Chemical Romance’s album: Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. That’s one of the best parts about it! Since its precursor was a music album, as you are reading through it, there are references to MCR’s lyrics and you can actually hear what some characters are intended to sound like. As you’re reading Dr. Death-Defying’s lines, his voice appears in your head like magic. It’s a surreal experience to have when you’re reading a graphic novel that doesn’t have a TV or movie adaptation!

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is a great read for anyone who is (and even isn’t) a My Chemical Romance fan. It makes a wonderful accompaniment to Danger Days but stands on its own as well with no pre-knowledge of the music. It’s a coming-of-age story about a young girl who was previously under the protection of the Killjoys. After their deaths in Danger Days, she struggles to find her place in the unforgiving world she was left in. Why were they protecting her? What was it about her that made them so willing to risk their lives? In The Fabulous Killjoys, the reader finds the answers that they are seeking and so much more.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (2014)

giveyouthesunAt thirteen, twins Jude and Noah are opposites: light and dark, wild and reserved, sporty and arty, but they’ve always on the same team. At sixteen, the two are hardly speaking to one another, and it becomes increasingly obvious that they are hiding more from each other than they are sharing. At thirteen, Jude is queen of the surfers and beginning to attract all of the attention of the boys, but perhaps moves a little more quickly than she can handle. Noah also meets a boy, but he’s far too afraid of being outed to the bullies at school to do much about it. His only hope is that his painting skills are good enough to get him into the special arts school in town, where he can finally be free of his tormentors and among people like himself. The twins’ mother tries to help both of her children apply for the school, but Jude becomes increasingly jealous as she feels her mother favoring Noah.

Three years later, their mother is dead—and haunting Jude. Jude interacts with the silent, angry ghost of her mother (who ruins all of her artwork) and the helpful, talkative ghost of her grandmother, bringing some magical realism to this contemporary young adult novel. As both stories unfold through alternating points of view and timelines, family mysteries are revealed, loves are won and lost, and this family is torn apart and brought back together again.

Find a copy of Jandy Nelson’s moving novel, I’ll Give You the Sun, today.

The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis (2014)

IMG_0983I grabbed this quirky graphic novel on a whim and was pleasantly surprised. Rob DavisThe Motherless Oven contains a story of friendship as three teens go on an adventure to solve the usual mysteries of life. Can someone escape their assigned death day? Where did Scarper’s robot father go?

It was the world building in this book that intrigued me the most though. Why on earth does it rain knives instead of water? Read this on a day you are FEELING WEIRD. Or ready to feel weird. Or weirder than you already feel.

 

Reality Boy by A.S. King (2013)

realityboyWhen Gerald Faust was a small child, his home was invaded by television cameras and the overdone star of the reality TV show, Network Nanny. Now in high school, Gerald has to live each day being tormented by his classmates and knowing everyone he meets saw him on national television, acting out by pooping on the kitchen table…in his mother’s shoes…at the department store…

While the “episodes” from Gerald’s stint on Network Nanny are entertaining, the real story here is what happened to this family behind the scenes. As he starts to reconcile with his past, readers are given glimpses into Gerald’s dysfunctional family, starting with his mother who openly favors her firstborn and never wanted her two other children, down to Gerald’s sister, Tasha, who has made his life a living hell since the day he was born. Equal parts horrifying and sympathetic, A.S. King’s Reality Boy provides a realistic look into the life of one teen as he learns to start trusting people and get out of a bad home situation.

The Giver by Lois Lowry (1993)

giverlowryThe book is a quick read and well done. In The Giver, an organized community controls its citizens every move and position within the community. The main character is a twelve-year-old boy, Jonas, and how he learns the truth about the community and the world outside.

Did you see the movie? How does it compare with Lois Lowry’s novel? If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the trailer below.

Buzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey (2014)

index.aspxIn this witty teen mystery, Millie Ostermeyer investigates the murder of the successful (yet unpopular) high school football coach in small town Honeywell. Aided by the enigmatic quarterback Chase Albright, Millie battles her archnemesis – the newspaper editor and cheerleading captain Viv – and the bumbling town detective in her pursuit to uncover the truth and clear her father’s name.

Buzz Kill by Beth Fantaskey is a great fit for fans of Veronica Mars, Nancy Drew, Meg Cabot’s Heather Wells mysteries, or Lisa Lutz’s Spellman family.

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (2012)

index.aspxHaving grown up in New York City, Astrid is feeling suffocated by her new home in a too-small town where most of her family just can’t seem to fit in. Her mother works from home and rarely leaves the house, lest she hear the whispers of the neighbors, and Astrid’s father has chosen to manage his stress by smoking pot instead. Astrid’s younger sister embraces her new surroundings, but Astrid herself can’t stand them.

Small towns are full of secrets and rumors, and this one is no exception. Astrid’s been keeping secrets for her best friends, Kristina and Justin, the town’s golden couple, who are more than they appear. But Astrid has her own secret even Kristina doesn’t know: she’s been dating a girl for a few months. Surrounded by closed-minded people and pressured by her girlfriend to just “come out already,” Astrid is struggling with her identity and which label she feels fits her best—if any labels fit at all. Astrid plays out these questions in make-believe conversations with Socrates and by imagining the lives of the passengers in the planes flying overhead. Unfortunately, secrets can’t be kept for too long, and Astrid is running out of time.

Ask the Passengers is very enjoyable and full of memorable and vibrant characters. Astrid’s fears and questions are real and valid and treated as such, which is not always the case in the usual questioning and coming out stories. There are a lot of connections to philosophy and Socrates that allow the reader to wonder about the truths of the universe as well. The interludes with the passengers are very creative and help keep the story fresh and moving, while still connecting to Astrid’s life. There are a lot of strong emotions in this book, which shine through thanks to A. S. King’s strong writing and the narration by Devon Sorvari in the audiobook edition.

 

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1977)

After almost a century of war against the insectile alien “Buggers,” Earth’s military forces are running out of options. They begin a search for the next great general, identifying children with great potential and taking them to Battle School at a young age. Ender Wiggin is the best chance Earth has—and he may be the last. The youngest of three extremely intelligent children, Ender is the goldilocks fit—not too cruel, not too kind, and just creative enough to change military tactics. At the delicate age of six, Ender is sent off-world to Battle School as their youngest recruit, and must quickly climb the ranks and master complex tactical and physical games in order to become a commander in the war, which is quickly coming to a head.

Ender’s Game is considered a classic among science fiction titles for young adults, but many of the themes transcend that age and remain applicable to adults. The children (the Wiggin children in particular) are all hyper-intelligent and speak as logically and as sophisticatedly as (if not more than) their adult counterparts, easily discussing military tactics and political issues. The writing is focused primarily on plot, with short interludes of dialogue between high-ranking military officials, and is not bogged down by description, which helps the novel to move quickly and span multiple years. Ender and the other children at the battle school are possibly too advanced to be believable, yet they fit well into the genre and remain memorable and sympathetic. Overall, this novel by Orson Scott Card is an engaging, fast read for fans of science fiction or stories of heroic children.

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher (2001)

This young adult title will make you cry both tears of joy and anguish as it explores the themes of racism, child abuse, and high school bullying. T. J. Jones, an adopted high school senior of mixed race, takes it upon himself to stop the quarterback of the football team from bullying a mentally challenged student. His plan, which involves creating a new sports team full of misfits, has wonderful highs and stunning lows. It is edgy, but rewarding.

I listened to Chris Crutcher’s Whale Talk on CD (read by Brian Corrigan).