Shy Quentin Jacobsen has lived next door to the sassy and adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman in their Orlando subdivision since they were two years old. As childhood friends who've since drifted apart, Quentin spends much of his high school years pining for her from afar. That is until one night when the impetuous Margo enters his bedroom window and takes him on a midnight prank-filled joyride. She then mysteriously disappears the morning after leaving only a series of cryptic clues in her wake. Quentin takes it upon himself to find her and what follows is a literary and geography-riddled road trip of a lifetime.
Anyone who's remotely familiar with John Green's writing (Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines) knows he crafts wonderfully well-rounded characters, with vivid personalities and witty dialogue. Paper Towns is no exception. Self-aware teens everywhere will be able to relate to Quentin's nerdy, overly analytical tendencies and empathize with his desire to find adventure outside his boring suburban life. With an incredibly original and totally unpredictable plot, readers will be taken on a trip to places that exist well-beyond the printed page.
What advice would you give your younger self? That’s exactly the question Devi is pondering when she accidentally drops her phone in the fountain at the mall. It has been a hard few weeks. Her boyfriend of three years has just dumped her, and since she’s been so wrapped up in him, she doesn’t have friends to rely on now that he’s gone. Prom and graduation are coming up, and Devi’s poor grades have landed her an acceptance letter to a bottom-tier school. And now, when she tries to dial her recently-soaked phone, she keeps getting some younger girl who claims to be called Devi as well. After talking, the girls realize that they are the same person, only separated by three years: they remember all the same childhood memories, and have all the same habits and secrets, but Freshman Devi hasn’t yet made the mistakes Senior Devi made. More importantly, when Freshman Devi makes a different decision, it immediately changes Senior Devi’s life.
Imagine if you could have a do-over. Obviously Senior Devi leaps at the chance. But what can one girl change, and what are the consequences of seemingly small decisions? Could they stop wars? Prevent Kyle Borster from getting behind the wheel drunk the day of the accident? Keep Karin from developing an eating disorder or their dad from losing his job? Get into a better college? Make sure their boyfriend never has the chance to dump them?
Gimme a Call is a really fun book, and a great read. It’s light- perfect for summer and the beach- but there are lots of bigger questions and moral issues raised that makes it a good choice for an end-of-year book report or summer reading pick.
Twins Sophie and Josh Newman are working summer jobs to save up for a car, a project that is going to take two years worth of saving from summer and after-school jobs. Josh works in a bookstore for Nick and Perry Fleming, who Sophie sees often at her job at the coffee shop across the street. One morning, their lives change when a group of strange men enter the bookstore and attack the Flemings. Both Sophie and Josh rush to help and in doing so witness the inexplicable: strange smells, bolts of electricity, invisible balls of energy, mythical creatures, and arcane languages. Once the dust clears, Nick Fleming explains; He tells the twins that he is actually Nicholas Flamel, the famous alchemist born in 1330. The historical Flamel was rumored to have discovered the secret of immortality, and in this story he has been protecting that secret for more than six hundred years. Ever since the discovery, he and Perry have guarded the secrets of dangerous magic from evil mages who seek to end the world. For the twins, this knowledge is a curse: they are now inextricably caught up in a magical battle between the forces of good and evil, a battle they may not survive.
The Alchemyst is the first book in what will be a series of six books. It is a really great story, full of historical and mythological characters transported into the modern world. It’s a wild adventure, on par with Harry Potter. Sophie and Josh are believable, wonderful characters, and their relationship as brother and sister is well done. Along the way they visit a bunch of really fantastic places, both mythical and real, and the descriptions really bring them to life. You won’t be able to put this book down.
Sutter is pretty much completely messed up, but he doesn’t know it. Sutter’s Mom and Dad got divorced when he was little, and while tells everyone his Dad is a big shot with an office in the tallest skyscraper around, he hasn’t seen him since he moved out. His self-involved mother married a guy who pretty much just talks about plumbing supplies and sending Sutter to military school, and his sister got plastic surgery and a yuppie husband. Sutter has been downing six-packs since the seventh grade, and now, three months from graduation, he rarely heads out without his flask of whiskey or deals with any situation without having first “fortified” himself with a couple of beers. He is happily living in the moment, heading from one party to the next, from one adventure to the next, which, to him, seems like the perfect way to live. He’s an amazing storyteller, and gifted at making friends: he’s the kind of guy who can convince anyone of anything. Unfortunately, his girlfriend is sick of his attitude and even his stoner best friend thinks it’s time to cut back on morning drinking.
The Spectacular Now is a completely depressing book, and one that shows alcohol abuse in stark relief, without being a preachy. The charm of this book is Sutter himself: he is both extremely perceptive and totally blind, a combination that lets you follow his stream of consciousness, seeing the reality of his life and the lives of the people he meets. He’s a wild, likeable character, with deep problems that you hope he can start to solve by the end of the book, especially after he meets someone who may be able to accept his flaws unconditionally. It’s bleak, frustrating and beautifully written. The Spectacular Now was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2008, and I highly recommend it.
Dance till the stars come down from the rafters
Dance, Dance, Dance till you drop.
~W.H. Auden, Death's Echo
You are the music while the music lasts.
~T.S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages
How did it get so late so soon?
It's night before it's afternoon.
December is here before it's June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?
Keep the prom magic alive with these awesome books and movies
The Return- a zombie infestation that decimated the world- happened generations ago. Mary has lived her whole life surrounded by the fence that protects the many-greats grandchildren of the original survivors from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. The forest is filled with zombies who hunger for human flesh, and every man, woman and child in the village is trained for the horrifying prospect of a breach in the fence. The Sisterhood teaches that the village is the only one of its kind, and that the forest stretches forever, but Mary was raised on family stories of life before The Return- stories of the ocean. She believes that there must be something outside the village, and she longs to find it. When Mary is forced to become a Sister, she begins to learn the terrible secrets of the village, and one night accidentally discovers proof of other humans living beyond the fence. To what lengths will the Sisters go to protect their secrets, and what price will Mary pay to find the world outside the fence?
The Forest of Hands and Teeth is an action packed story. The Unconsecrated (the zombies) are terrifying, and the realities of life living surrounded by them are realistically thought out. The characters are well balanced: for example, when the Sisters keep secrets or act in a way that seems immoral, it is also possible to see that, from their perspective, they are trying to protect the villagers. The writing also shows the emotional fragility of people faced with impossible choices and unrelenting horror. Really, this book has it all: petrifying horror, fast-paced battles, enduring romance, and some genuinely sad parts that might make you cry. Once you’re done this one, you’ll also want the companion book The Dead-Tossed Waves.
In Katsa’s world, some people are born with a grace: a surpassing talent that sets them apart from normal people. As a young child, Katsa’s grace made itself known when she accidentally killed a grown man. She became a feared and unnatural person: a girl with a killing grace. Now, at the age of sixteen, she can kill a group of adult soldiers without even thinking. Her uncle, the King, uses his graceling niece to instill fear and quell dissent; for him, Katsa has killed and tortured many men who defied the King, but she loathes the cruelty. Disgusted by the way she must use her grace, she secretly begins to rescue and defend innocent people. When she sets out to rescue an elderly man who has been kidnapped by a neighboring King, she meets a graced fighter like herself who both offers a new perspective on her abilities and gives her the first even fight of her life.
Graceling is an excellent story. Katsa has a temper and an unsurpassed skill, but she is also committed to justice and kindness. The way in which Katsa is used by the King is interesting, as is the way she manages to undermine his power. The story has a little bit of everything: romance, fantasy, political intrigue and adventure. Once you're done Graceling, check out the companion book Fire.
According to Colin, the difference between a prodigy and a genius is that a prodigy learns things that other people have already figured out, only faster, while a genius comes up with ideas that no one has thought of before. Colin is a prodigy—he could read at three, and by the fourth grade, he was translating Ovid for fun. At seventeen, he feels washed up. He has not made a major discovery, and realizes that while he continues to learn, his pace has slowed. While he excels at many things, the thing he seems best at is being dumped by girls named Katherine. Nineteen girls named Katherine, to be exact. When Katherine the Nineteenth dumps him on the night of their high school graduation, Colin falls into despair. He is alone, she doesn’t love him, and his Eureka moment may never come. Hoping to drag him out of his funk, Colin’s best friend Hassan decrees that a road trip is the only cure.
An Abundance of Katherines is an interesting look into the mind of someone who is academically extremely gifted, while being socially disadvantaged. It is also extremely funny at parts, especially Hassan and Colin’s discussions. It’s a great trip, full of adventures, anagrams and intriguing strangers, and along the way Colin makes a discovery when he least expects it. It was a 2007 Printz Award Honor Book. If it were made into a movie (there were some rumors that it would be) Jesse Eisenberg would be the perfect Colin.
At sixteen, Mercy is the oldest child in her family, with two sisters, aged fourteen and one, and a toddler brother. When the cotton crop fails, and the family is reduced to eating leftover potatoes from a neighbor’s field, Mercy’s father leaves to find work and Mercy is sent to become a hired girl at a farm a day’s walk away. Mercy has never been away from home, and fears being with strangers, but her leaving means one less mouth to feed. It is 1918 and an influenza epidemic is changing the world Mercy has known and the shape her future will take. The epidemic in the story is one that killed millions of people between 1918 and 1920, an estimated 3% of the population, and which killed young adults at an extremely high rate (learn more).
The Goodbye Season is a great read. Mercy is a strong character, loving and kind, who comes to rely on her mother’s words of wisdom to get through hard times. She faces desperate situations and terrible losses, but finds ways to maintain happiness and find joy. It is also a look at a time and place that is drastically different from our own, in which a sixteen year old girl can be go off to work a few miles away and not know if she will ever see or speak to her family again.
Alley Rhodes is the Queen Mean of the Vicious Circle, the group of semi-geeky, always snarky writers and editors for the school newspaper. They spend their time coming up with nasty one-liners for the gossip column, and ragging on anyone who crosses their path. The difference between Alley’s world and ours is that a couple of years ago the post-humans (vampires, werewolves and zombies) came out of the coffin and now the pathetic human girls at Alley’s school can’t get enough of drooling over the post-human guys. When Alley gets an assignment to review a local band (fronted by a vampire) for the newspaper, she knows the all-ages club will be crawling with girls in ridiculous goth outfits throwing themselves at the stage. What she doesn’t expect is that the guest singer will know all her favorite Leonard Cohen songs or the meaning behind Cole Porter’s lyrics. She’s so busy falling for him that she doesn’t notice that he’s a zombie. Is the queen of the Vicious Circle going to let a zombie melt her heart?
I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It is a funny take-off of the supernatural romance genre. Alley is mean, but she’s also an intelligent person with a plan for her life. Meeting Doug, her zombie guy, throws her plans into chaos, and turns her into a different person. There is also a a bit on intrigue: the vampires, who are morally against alive/dead mixed relationships, are out to convince Alley to become post-human (aka dead). They may also be trying to discredit or kill Doug, but none of that is enough to keep Doug and Alley apart.