Friday, December 3, 2010

New teen reads: fiction, fantasy (and an Australian Beatle)

While the holidays approach it might be good to take a break from all the stress of finding just the right present for all those uncles and aunts who haven't seen you since last Christmas ... and who are just dying to hear about your new boyfriend. Take it easy. There's still time to treat yourself! Here are some new books that will make your troubles seem not so big. Look for these using the Amazon and World Catalog search boxes on BookBag, and relax! As these stories demonstrate, it could be worse. Much worse.

Matched, by Ally Condie (Dutton) Science Fiction/Romance. In the Society, everything is perfect, including the system that makes marriage Matches between 17-year-olds, taking everything from romantic to genetic compatibility into account. And Cassia's Match to her lifelong best friend Xander does seem perfect. But when Cassia loads Xander's microcard and views its data, someone else's face flashes on the screen -- someone who isn't supposed to be in the Matching pool at all. In this powerful and descriptive novel, a good bet for fans of Kristin Cashore's Graceling, Cassia begins her struggle against everything that she's been taught. Matched is the first book in a trilogy.

Hunger, by Jackie Morse Kessler (Graphia)Fiction. When Lisabeth Lewis's half-hearted attempt at suicide is interrupted by a pale messenger who announces that Lisabeth has been chosen to be Famine, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the anorexic teen thinks she must be hallucinating from the few pills she's already taken. But the messenger left her a set of scales, and an enormous horse that no one else can see has taken up residence in her front yard, waiting for her to travel the world on his back. Balancing an honest and emotionally intense description of eating disorders with a creative paranormal backdrop,Hunger is a riveting, metaphorical novel that's tinged with dark humor.

Blank Confession, by Pete Hautman (Simon & Schuster) Fiction. At the beginning of this fast-paced, thrilling read, 16-year-old Shayne Blank walks into the police station and confesses to a murder. Shayne, who's new in town, stood out from the moment he arrived, partly because he isn't afraid of the jerks who terrorize guys like oddball Mikey Martin. Told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Mikey and police detective George Rawls, this suspenseful and twisting story will thrill fans of complex characters, funny, believable dialogue, and gripping, thought-provoking reads (such as Blake Nelson's Paranoid Park).

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, by Lish McBride (Henry Holt) Fantasy. Samhain Corvus LaCroix (Sam for short) is just a college dropout and a fry cook. At least that's what he believes until he meets Douglas, a very strange man who identifies Sam as a fellow necromancer--and a potential rival. And while Sam thinks his encounter with Douglas was weird, it's nothing compared with what's to come. Suddenly, Sam is in danger, as well as everyone else who is close to him, and he'll have to solve the mystery of his identity and powers in time to rescue Seattle from a terrible evil. This fast-paced, alternately hilarious and scary book scintillates with action, secrets, great characters, and romance and is a wholly satisfying (if at times a bit gruesome) read.

The Freak Observer, by Blythe Woolston (Carolrhoda Lab) Fiction. Loa Lindgren is still trying to figure out how to deal with her little sister's recent death when her friend Esther is hit and killed by a logging truck. From then on, when she isn't waking up screaming from nightmares, Esther does her best to bury herself in her job and in physics, which she loves. As she struggles to overcome PTSD and navigates relationships with her family, a potential boyfriend, and the kids at school who see her as "the dead girl's friend," Loa's keen, often heartbreaking observations about life make for a gritty and bleak, yet also funny and beautiful, read. Searingly real characters and fascinating details that connect the story to Loa's scientific explorations add to The Freak Observer's unique feel.

Beatle Meets Destiny, by Gabrielle Williams (Marshall Cavendish) Fiction. Superstitious Melbourne, Australia teen John Lennon (nicknamed "Beatle" for obvious reasons) is heading home early on Friday the 13th when he meets Destiny McCartney. The two of them, deciding that their chance encounter must have been fated, spend the evening together...and find that there's a real spark between them. But Beatle has a girlfriend. As this twisting, multi-layered novel spins its tale, Destiny and Beatle--as well as readers--are in for all kinds of surprises. Funny, offbeat, and thoughtful, this romance from Down Under is just the thing for those who enjoy something a bit out of the ordinary.

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