Friday, December 14, 2012

A Plethora of YA books to try out over break

I have been reading...honestly, I have.  It's just trying to keep up with the blogging that's been bogging me down a bit.  So here are a few titles you may want to pick up while on vacation.  So, we have some classic retellings, a supernatural and a survival story.  Interestingly enough, all of them are set on islands.  This wasn't done on purpose...I just now saw the connection!  Hmmmmm...island fun in winter can be a good thing!  Well. these islands are definitely not daquiris and beach volleyball.  Read on for the reviews: 

Going back to the classics:
Two books came across my desk that I thought were fascinating.  I admit, I picked them up because the covers were fantastically done, but then I realized I picked up two that were re-mixes of great classics! 

Ten by Gretchen McNeil (Balzer & Bray, 2012) is today's YA version of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.  Ten teens are invited to a remote island outside of Seattle by the most popular girl in school.  All are instructed not to tell anyone about this party, and that's exactly what Meg and Minnie do when they set down on the island.  They see people they know (including TJ whom both friends like) and some they don't.  Then the worst happens... a storm blows in right after they watch a strange and creepy DVD (think the video in the movie, The Ring) and one teen shows up dead the next morning.  Then another....then another....
This book, although not quite up to Christie's literary standards, has the potential to steal the reader's attention and try to figure out if there is such a thing as true coincidences.  In true mystery style, the twist isn't revealed until the very end, so don't cheat! book trailer:

The Turning by Francine Prose (HarperCollins, 2012) is the retelling of Henry James' Turn of the Screw.  Jack has an unusual job over the summer....after talking to the uncle to two children whom he's guardian to, Jack accepts a job taking care of them over the summer.  In order to do that, Jack has to move to a private island, inhabited only by the two kids and Linda, their housekeeper.  It's when Jack gets there and meets the kids that he notices something creepy going on.  Miles and Flore aren't your typical happy summer kids...more like a throwback from the 1800's.  The house is dark...painted black with the curtains drawn.  The only sunny place is the kitchen and Linda.  With no phone, wi-fi, or television, Jack's only communication with the outside world is through letters, and it's those that the reader glimpses Jack's mental descent into his own dark world...
Even though the prose may not quite match that of a teenage guy, the letters are a great vehicle to tell the story.  The sign of a good re-telling?  Now I want to read the original!

And then there's the great supernatural read:

Zom-B by Darren Shan (Little Brown, 2012) Tired of zombies yet?  You shouldn't be only because the best of the dead is still to come!  B's parents think it's a joke.  Yeah right...a zombie outbreak in Ireland.  Even though there is video showing the destruction, B's father (part racist, part wife-beater, all around bad person) thinks i'st all a hoax by the government.  So B continues to lead her tough-girl life of beating up the weaker ones, taking money, and causing trouble.  She's never been shaken up before, but one day her father has a visitor...a very strange visitor, who predicts B be able to make it alive.  And the zombie apocalypse begins....
Leave it to Darren Shan to write a action-packed, bloody zombie novel complete with pictures.  Move over Demonata series...Shan is beginning another great one!  booktrailer:

Let's wrap up these quick reviews with a little survival fiction, why don't we?

The Raft by S.A. Bodeen (Fiewel and Friends, 2012).  Robie is the unfortunate daughter of two environmental scientists, whose latest job keeps them on a remote island not far from the mainland of Hawaii but far enough.  In order to ensure her life as a teenager, Robie often goes there via a supply plane to visit her aunt.  But her last visit is cut short, when her aunt needs to go out of town.  Robie begs to stay alone, and for once, she's granted this extravagance and her aunt won't even let her parents know.  It's only for a harm no foul.  Robie loves her independence until it's shatterred by a violent incident, which leads Robie back to the supply plane and home.  But she never makes it...the supply plane has crashed in the ocean and only she and the co-pilot survive.  The hardest part is yet to come.  No one knows where Robie is, and time is running out...
Bodeen creates a psychological survival novel that fans will enjoy.  Quite like her previous book, the Compound, the psychology of the event is more in the forefront that the plot itself.  It was a quick read, with some predictability, but one that readers won't put down until they find out what happens to the main character. 

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