Category Archives: Teen/Young Adult

This Dark Endeavour: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel

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This Dark Endeavour is a prequel to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I am always a bit skeptic about prequels that are written a century or more after the initial novel. Yet, this book is a pleasant surprise: it is believable (as if indeed it is the real pre-story to Frankenstein). This Dark Endeavour is like a triple-flavoured ice-cream. The novel literally has lots of layers: history, science, magic, love, integrity – just to name a few. All of these subjects are covered deeply enough to create a sense of realism, but not too deep to instill a sense of boredom. Kenneth Oppel does a marvelous job depicting 18th century Europe: I submerged into it head and toes! There is never a dull moment; the novel is always moving forward. There are three main characters: Victor and Konrad Frankenstein (twin brothers) and their cousin Elizabeth. The three of them grew up together and were happy playmates until they reached their adolescent years. Very soon, they learn too many things at once: love and friendship don’t always go together, jealousy knows no boundaries, passion and duty are often on the opposite ends of the spectrum, and there is never a good or smart way to outwit death… (Submitted by Mariya)

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Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

StargirlYoung Adult book, Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli transports you to the fictitious town of Mica, Arizona. The narrator, Leo Borlock, attends high school and leads a very ordinary life just like all of his classmates. The normal lives of these students are shaken up when eccentric home school student, Stargirl Caraway, transfers and captivates the entire student body with her unusual antics. While at first the students are fascinated by her, they quickly turn on her when her peppy demeanour causes her to cheer for the school’s rival basketball team and she becomes a traitor. When the students start to shun her and anyone who is close with her, Leo is forced to decide on whether he will side with the students and once again live a normal life, or stand by Stargirl’s side and defend her non-conformity.

 

This is one of my favorite reads, especially in bad weather, because of the way Spinelli transports the reader into the hot Sonoran desert, where cacti grow tall and Stargirl spends her time exploring, meditating, and conversing with the wise paleontologist, Archie, and his dying cactus, Senor Saguaro. The characters are also a huge factor in my enjoyment of this novel because of their many layers and quirks. The theme of the book deals with the student body’s herd mentality and their reaction to someone who is different, which is always a relevant and relatable topic. This is a beautifully written story, packed full of desert imagery and meaningful life lessons, perfect for any age. (Submitted by DC)

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New York Times Bestseller, Parents Choice Gold Award Winner, ALA Top Ten Best Books Award winner, Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of the Year

Sequel – Love, Stargirl

Tamar by Mal Peet

Image result for tamar book coverTamar by Mal Peet is a YA novel set in the Netherlands during WWII, and tells the story of two young Dutch men, Tamar and Dart,  who are members of the British Secret Service, sent to the Netherlands to assist the Dutch Resistance.  The narrative alternates between a female narrator in current day Britain, the granddaughter of one of the young soldiers seeking information about her now-deceased grandfather, and a male voice telling the war story in the 1940s.  Both voices are spectacular, and their two stories are gripping in their own way.  I especially enjoyed the tale of the resistance fighters, the reality of the conditions they find themselves in, and the tragic love triangle in which they become embroiled.  This audiobook was excellent, and I’m sure it is also an excellent read. (Submitted by Ginny).

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Dragon Books for All Ages

Image result for dealing with dragonsImagine having a dragon for a friend: powerful and perhaps capricious, but with your best interests at heart.  I have a favourite dragon friend book for every age.  For younger readers (maybe 8 and up) I recommend Patricia Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons series, about a Princess who decides she’d rather live with the dragons than the princes.  As a teenager, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsinger was my very favourite book.  Once I read it through twice on the same day.  Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight is one of the best dragon friend books for adults, and there are plenty of other books set in her world, Pern, to keep you busy for a while. (Submitted by Rebecca).

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Calvin by Martine Leavitt

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Calvin is a brilliant 17 year old who has procrastinated much too long on his final English and biology projects. Recently diagnosed with schizophrenia, he decides to undertake an epic pilgrimage across Lake Erie along with childhood friend Susie and the hallucination of a 10 foot tiger named Hobbes to convince Bill Watterson to write one more strip of Calvin & Hobbes.  Thoughtful and heartfelt. (Submitted by Meghan W).

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Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Image result for exit pursued by a bear book coverTalk about tough subjects for a teen novel: rape/date rape, drugs, unwanted pregnancy, and abortion. This may not be gritty enough for some readers but you don’t necessarily need gritty to talk about serious issues.

While attending a camp in Northern Ontario, Hermione Winters was drugged and raped. The repercussions range from testing the strength of families and friendships, romantic relationships – past, present and future – to the school and small town rumours that can mark and make or break the spirit of a victim.

The author admits she was angry when she first started writing this book and that it wasn’t very cohesive but she stuck with it, creating a novel I wasn’t sure I wanted to read but I’m glad I did. It makes you realize the ‘what ifs’ of your life and the decisions that you’ve made that have put you on the path you are on – at the moment. (Submitted by RZ).

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Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

In Dumplin’, we meet Willowdean, a 16-year-old girl a little on the chubbier side who lives in a small Texas town. Willowdean is confident and funny–and crushing hard on the cute jock who works at the fast food restaurant with her. Willowdean’s self image and self-confidence get skewed when she discovers that her crush likes her back. All of a sudden, she’s anxious about how people will view them as a couple. On a whim, she decides to enter the town beauty pageant run by her mother with a number of misfits from school. This young adult book was charming and engrossing. I finished it in a day. (Submitted by Meghan).

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