December 9th, 2013
The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
It has been a year since a series of bizarre murders occurred in the small town of Oleander, Kansas. Just out of the blue a few townspeople killed the first people they saw, and then committed suicide. After a year things have gone mostly back to normal. But the witnesses to the murders still rest uneasily.
Unfortunately there is more murder and mayhem on the way for Oleander. Cass Porter, the only original murderer who failed at her suicide attempt, is whisked a way from the building where she has been institutionalized. At the same time a huge tornado forms outside of town and begins to destroy large swaths of the small community.
The next morning the people of Oleander try to recover from the wrath of mother nature. What appears to be the National Guard arrive but instead of helping the put the town under quarantine. The scary thing is that no one really minds that the town, mostly destroyed, is left alone. People have started to act irrationally, and even violent, lately. The only ones who are not affected is Cass, and the other teens who witnessed the year old murders.
Now as the town falls apart around them while madness and violence rise up in its place can these handful of teens survive? Can they discover why this is happening to their town? They need to act quickly because time is running out before the quarantine comes to the final measure of containment; the total annihilation of the town.
The Waking Dark is an homage to Stephen King (specifically Under the Dome or Needful Things). So if you really enjoy his writing style, Robin Wasserman does a fairly decent impersonation. It is an epic, violent story of a town’s self-destruction through the view points of a few teenagers. So there is lots of violence, and threats of sexual assault. I recommend it to interested readers who are 16 or older.
November 29th, 2013
The Coldest Girl In Coldtown by Holly Black
Vampires are real and have become a deadly contagion all over the world. The United States decides on a novel solution: infected cities become quarantined from the rest of the nation. These quarantines are known as Coldtowns; walled cities where vampires and humans (some willing, some not) live side by side. Nothing escapes the Coldtown while newly infected are purposefully incarcerated in the Coldtown.
Coldtowns are provided electricity and are wired with the Internet. Live streams pour from Coldtowns and have become the ultimate reality show for humans the world over. The shows paint an appealing picture of luxury and immortality. Adults, teens, and children desperately want to be turned make pilgrimages to their nearest Coldtown hoping to get in and fulfill their immortal destiny.
Tana is a young girl. She passed out at the party she attended last night. She wakes up in the bathroom. Downstairs she discovers her friends dead. She knows they have been killed by vampires. Unfortunately she has slept the day away and now it is almost sunset. As she attempts to leave she discovers her ex-boyfriend chained to a bed. He has been bitten but left alive. With one drop of human blood he will be turned. Instead of leaving him she decides to free him. But their is another boy chained in the room as well; a vampire boy. She takes pity and frees him as well after he promises not to attack. They escape just before dusk.
But what do you do with a chained vampire in the trunk of your car and an infected friend driving the car? Tana decides that they all must head to a Coldtown. But is she prepared for the adventure, danger, and mysteries that await her on her journey?
The Coldest Girl In Coldtown is a new vampire story where the vampires still have their bite. If you like horror then definitely give this book a try. It is appropriate for ages 16 and up due to violence, and discussions of intimacy.
November 15th, 2013
Openly Straight By Bill Konigsberg
Rafe has been out since a very young age. Growing up in Boulder, CO with aging hippies as parents it was okay to be gay.
Except Rafe always felt that is all any one saw in him; he was just the gay kid. In his junior year of high school he decides to take on a experiment that will help him shed the “gay kid” label. He decides to enroll in a prep school in Massachusetts and then just be himself. He won’t tell anyone he is gay and he can just be Rafe; one of the guys.
At his new school he is soon hanging out with the popular jocks and playing soccer. Except he finds one of his new friends, Ben, really attractive. After Ben’s best friend leaves school early Rafe becomes his new friend. Rafe struggles with toeing the line between being friends and crushing on Ben.
Can Rafe just turn his sexuality off? Does he actually believe this experiment makes him more ‘normal’? And what about his friends and family? How will Rafe’s decision to pretend to be straight affect them?
Openly Straight is an interesting take on the “coming out” novel in young adult LGBQT literature. At times it reads like a history of the gay rights movement, and at other times I was frustrated with the naivete of Rafe. Overall it is a good read but recommended for teens who are just starting the process of coming to grips with their sexuality or working up the courage to come out. It is appropriate for ages 16 and up due to scenes involving physical intimacy and drinking.