Sunday, October 2, 2011

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott


Scott, E. (2009). Living dead girl.

This audiobook was hauntingly as told by narrator, Kate Reinders. She was lovely as she portrayed young Alice, a girl abducted by the perverted Ray. In his clutches for five years she wants nothing more to escape. With eloquence of voice, each character is distinctively narrated and the listener can distinguish easily between personalities. My favorite character, of course, is Alice, abused sexually, physically, and emotionally. The listener will fight for Alice and won’t even blame her when she willingly goes along with Ray to abduct another girl. She is fighting for her life and the listener fights along with her. Is it a book for every teen? No, but for any teen struggling with abuse or for those empathetic enough to listen to it, it is an important book. It could easily be introduced into a select audience as a booktalk, it is graphic, emotional, and raw. It is a book that will move the listener, it is overly compelling, and it will provoke much thought. It was an audiobook so poignant and emotional, as much as I didn’t want to listen to it I had to know that our protagonist, Alice, would survive.

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen


Bodeen, S.A. (2008). The compound. Feiwel and Friends: New York.

The literary element that resonates throughout this book is the suspenseful tone the author creates. It is a page turner for sure. A family has been confined to an elaborate bomb shelter for the next 15 years, built by the billionaire father of the family. After being in the Compound for six years our protagonist, Eli, begins to question things. Why did the cattle and crops die so soon after entering the Compound when everything had been so intricately planned? What’s behind the padlocked door in Father’s office? And could the most horrendous plan for staying alive revolve around whatever lives behind the yellow door.  As Eli puts the pieces together the reader grows increasingly concerned for the well-being of the family. Father is knocked out by Eli and he is the only one that knows the code that will allow the family to leave, Mother is pregnant and confined to bed rest, and Eli establishes and Internet connection where he receives and IM from his “dead” brother, Eddy. As the suspense builds within the Compound, the reader is swept along with the current of anticipation. This book is sure to quickly grab the attention of teens. The book is filled with plot twists that set the stage for this teen thriller.  

Wake by Lisa McMann


McMann, L. (). Wake. Simon Pulse: New York.

The conflict in this novel is between Janie and her battle to escape from falling into people’s dreams. There are additional conflicts that mirror teenage life such as Janie’s antagonist, Melinda, a rich, snotty girl that teases Janie about being poor. Janie is anxious over her relationship with Cabel and is riled by the thoughts that he dreams about her, his recent transformation into a good-looking senior, and his knife brandishing monster-man that also appears in his dreams. There is even a passive aggressive struggle with her alcoholic mother as Janie strives to maintain some sort of order in her life. The conflicts are all real to Janie but she struggles most with the dreams. Teens will find this book easy to read and exciting. The setting is Janie’s senior year in high school and she falls into students’ dreams that will be relatable to the reader.

Room by Emma Donoghue


Donoghue, E. (2010). Room. Little, Brown and Company: New York.

Told by the point-of-view of five year old Jack, this story begins in Room where he has been held captive with his mother by Old Nick. Jack’s point-of-view is that of the innocent and na├»ve. He loves living in Room and does not seem to think there is anything unusual about it. Ma has established a daily routine for the two of them which allows Jack to feel a sense of normalcy about his living conditions. Through an elaborate plan where Jack must pretend to be dead, the two are able to escape. Telling the story through the voice of a child allows the reader to understand Jack’s unhappiness once he is away from Room. He struggles in the real world and desperately misses his days when he was alone with Ma. The story is written for adults but it is also a one that young adult readers can appreciate. Teens may be able to appreciate the horrific aftermath that occurs when events like this happen in the real world.  I appreciated the last scene where Jack and Ma visit Room one last time. It looks different to him and smaller. It brings some closure for him.

Prey by Lurlene McDaniel


McDaniel, L. (2008). Prey. Delacorte Press: New York.

Told from the point of view of the three main characters, Honey, Lori, and Ryan, this book is the tale of a female teacher who seduces one of her male students. The chapters alternate between the voices of the three characters. This makes it is easy to gain personal insight on each of them as they speak honestly to the reader. After Honey finds out that Ryan and Lori have been together she tells us “knowing what’s going on between them has pulled my life out of shape and turned me into someone I don’t like.” We see Ryan go from an innocent teenager to a hardened young adult. As the story concludes, Ryan is seeing Lori again but this time he states, “This time I’ll be in the driver’s seat. She’ll give me anything I want. And I’ll make sure she never deserts me.” By executing this point of view we delve into the personal thoughts of each character and can establish early on that Lori is bi-polar predator, abused by her own father. The story is sure to attract teens because it is a relevant issue in today’s society and sadly does happen. It would be good to use as a discussion on the way society views relationships between male teachers and female students versus the other way around.

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose


Hoose, P. (2009). Claudette Colvin: Twice toward justice. Farrar Straus Giroux: New York.

Although the Civil Rights Movement is well-known and well-documented history, this informational book had a lot of foreshadowing, implying to the reader that the climax of all the combined events was going to be huge. This story centers around Claudette Colvin, a teenager living in Montgomery, Alabama, who refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white woman nine months before the famous Rosa Parks did the same thing. There was enormous tension in this city during the 1950’s. Segregation was in full swing and laws that other states had adopted regarding anti-segregation simply did not apply in Montgomery. African-Americans were angry yet fearful. Many events occurred to spur the people into action. A sixteen year old boy was falsely accused of raping a white woman and sentenced to death. Tension mounts. People refusing to give up their seats to whites are arrested, bus boycotts are organized, more arrests for African Americans challenging the laws, and the Bell Street Baptist Church is bombed. All these events culminate in the lawsuit that ended segregation on public buses. My favorite scene is early in the book when we get a glimpse at just how strong Claudette is. She decides she will no longer straighten her hair in an effort to look white. She states, “All of a sudden it seemed like such a waste of time to heat up a comb and straighten your hair before going to school.” This is such a great informational book for teens. It is packed with pictures and the writing style is easy to read with a good portion being the words of Claudette. It certainly gave me a lot of information about Civil Rights that I did not know.

Punkzilla by Adam Rapp


Rapp, A. (2009). Punkzilla. Candlewick Press: Massachusetts.

This book is presented as a series of letters from Jamie, aka Punkzilla, to his older brother, Peter, who is dying of AIDS. While most of the letters are from Jamie, there are others that are dated a year before when Jamie has not yet gone AWOL from military school. The letters are an account of Jamie’s journey as he travels to see Peter before he dies. During his journey he meets many colorful and interesting characters, one of which is Lewis who is transgender. Jamie states that he is mistaken for a girl many times. This encounter could be representative of one of the many issues teens struggle with; their sexuality. This book contains graphic sex scenes including pedophilia, homosexual sex, and heterosexual sex. It also references drugs. As I looked at the dates of the letters, I could determine that Jamie went AWOL right after his domineering father came for a visit. Another relevant teen issue, that of parents. All these conflicts that Jamie deals with are the same for the teens reading the novel. This is a book for the mature teen reader. Jamie has plenty to say in his diary-like readings and teens will easily relate. My favorite character was Sam who Jamie described as a nice kid, he shared food with Jamie and his mom offers Jamie a place to stay. This brought tears to the eyes of Jamie, then he steals Sam’s backpack and hid behind a dumpster.