Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Sky Inside by Clare B. Dunkle

Martin knows that spring is upon his neighborhood. How? Because everyone is switching their decals to the spring flowers. He remembers his grandmother telling him about strange creatures with wings that filled the sky, but surely, her mind was skipping…there hasn’t been anything like that. The only thing in the sky is the bubble with the clouds painted on them while bots go around checking the integrity of their “slice of paradise.”

Martin knows he and his family are the lucky ones that escaped from the outside to be contained in the world created for them. He lives with his parents and his new and improved Wonderbaby sister and for his birthday he gets an Alldog, a robo dog, for his birthday. In his world, the story of Peter Pan is about a lawyer battling Hook, a CEO; and everyday everyone votes live on choices the President presents. c

But things are not as they seem, especially when Martin discovers the underworld and the bots the government is putting into houses to monitor them. With his new Alldog, he begins to discover some horrible truths – including what happens when residents leave or try to leave their colony – and what is really happening in the world and the “normal” life he lives now.

If you are looking to find a science fiction book that looks at a world filled with politics and deceit, look no further. Dunkle has created a realistic world in which member of society willingly follow and trust what’s going on in order to live the life of ease. This is a book easily read and followed, even for non science fiction readers. Although not as “in your face” as other sci-fi books for older readers, this one can easily be used from early junior high to high school. Recommended.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Father's Son by Terri Fields

Kevin’s having an excellent day at school. An honors student, he does well in academics, has his best friend Jason who he hangs out and plays pick-up basketball with, and today, of all days….he’s got his first date with Emily….finally!!

It’s Friday night, and he’s ready to go out. Since his parents are divorced, this is his weekend to spend with his dad. Kevin gets in his Jeep his dad bought him and takes off to the party without a care in the world. The next day he wakes up and hangs with his dad, eating take-out food and playing video games. Not at all like living with his mom, who struggles to make ends meet and never ever talks about the divorce or what happened. Kevin loves his mom, but feels at home with his dad.

Then Sunday comes, and it destroys everything Kevin thought was safe and real. As he’s staring at the television screen, he sees the police have finally captured the notorious DB25 serial killer. And the person whose face is staring back at him is his father’s….

Kevin’s life becomes a living hell. He can’t stand to be at school because of the whispers behind his back. Emily has dumped him, claiming her parents don’t want her around him. Even his best friend quits talking to Kevin. But Kevin is a fighter, and he decides that if the police won’t find the evidence to find his father innocent, then he will. And a memory comes to the surface….where did his dad hide that small, portable laptop he’s never seen before? What happened to it?

Kevin wants answers, and the only he knows how is if his father will talk to him and tell him where his car is, where the laptop is…why they caught him trying to escape out the latest victim’s house. But the only thing his dad tells him is that he doesn’t want to see him ever again, and yes….he’s guilty. Kevin’s world is spinning out of control, and the only avenue left is for him to start looking into the past for answers, if he can find a past.

This is a gripping mystery thriller from beginning to end. Fast-paced, the plot races without letting up, going from one end of Kevin’s life to the other without slowing down. Readers will wonder if Kevin’s dad is innocent or guilty to the very end. Although parents take a back seat in most YA fiction, Kevin’s parents are full-court center, creating the backbone to the main character’s persona. Terri Fields has created a well-written mystery for teens that’s rated high in this YA genre. A definite read for anyone who loved Walter Sorrell’s First Shot.