July 12, 2010

She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

Ally Ryan, an athletically gifted 15 year old, has moved back to her hometown after a year's absence. Originally part of the rich elite, called the "Cresties", she is now a "Norm" and hated by her former friends. Her father, an investment banker, who lost his own as well as the fortunes of Ally's friends, moved Ally and her mother out of their mansion and then abandon them. Ally and her mom move back, now living in a condo. Allie visits her old house where she discovers a gorgeous jock, Jake, living in her old room. The chemistry between them is immediate, but strained, because his group of friends are those that hate Ally. Told in alternating voices between Ally and Jake, the story and romance between them is one of the difficulties of being a teen and standing up to or succumbing to peer pressure. While not my favorite genre, the book is readable, and some of the pranks Ally's friends pull are downright cruel. The ending is a cliffhanger, ensuring a sequel. For mature readers because of strong language that is part of typical teen dialogue.
Reed Reads Score: 3.5

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Christopher discovers his neighbor's dog murdered. Christopher is curious. Christopher must unravel the mystery of the murder. To do so requires him to venture out of his comfortable world of numbers and logic, and into the loathsome world of people. Christopher is a fifteen year old autistic, mathematical savant, whose deep need to uncover the mystery of the dog's murder overpowers his fear of communicating with people. His search for the truth leads him to dark secrets that will change his relationship with neighbors and family. Written in the true voice of Christopher, the story takes unexpected turns, wishing you could be there to protect Christopher. Ultimately this story is about family and how the desire to protect those we love can ultimately hurt them. A perfect companion to Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork, both books about autistic youth yearning for the truth. I loved this book. For more mature readers, contains strong language.
Reed Reads Score: 5

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo loves taking care of the ponies at Paterson, a school for high functioning autistic youth. His father, a high powered attorney, wants Marcelo to spend his senior year mainstreamed in a public school because he must experience the "real world." At odds, Marcelo and his father compromise by agreeing to Marcelo spending the summer working in his father's law offices, and from that experience will decide which school he will attend. Marcelo enters a world he fears and doesn't understand. At the office he teams up with Jasmine who takes him under her wing, helping him sort out the competition, jealousy, and indifference that is typical of the business world. When completing a task, Marcelo discovers a picture of a girl whose face is grossly disfigured. His search for the truth behind the picture is life changing. The story is convincingly written in the voice of Marcelo, with deep characterizations and a plot that unfolds beautifully. I loved this book, and while perhaps better suited for high school, it is an important story told with heart and compassion. The book is for more mature readers because of language and light sexual inferences. An excellent companion to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime by Mark Haddon.
Reed Reads Score: 5

Everwild by Neal Shusterman

The second book of the Skinjacker Trilogy, Everwild is just as creepy, but more complex than Everlost, to which it is a sequel. Mary Hightower (the Sky Witch), Nick (the Chocolate Ogre), Allie (the Outcast), and Mikey (formerly the monstrous McGill) are all back along with some new characters, which requires reading the first book to understand what is going on.  Everlost is a world inhabited by Afterlights; children and teens in a world between the living and the dead.  Mary and Nick are at odds, Mary believing that Everlost is where Afterlights should remain in perpetuity, and Nick who wants to send them to "the light". The story follows the maneuvering for dominance between Mary and Nick, as well as Allie who uses skinjacking; the ability to enter the bodies of the living, to help her find her parents.  Several plot twists, and mixed allegiances keep you wondering, but with so much going on the story bogs down. The climax is a cliff-hanger, leaving you yearning for book three.
Read Reads Score: 3.5                                                                                        

Darkwood by M.E. Breen

Overhearing her wicked uncle plotting to sell her to the Drop, a cruel mining operation that utilizes children to harvest ringstone from perilous cliffs,  twelve-year-old Annie escapes to the Darkwood, where her fight for survival begins. This adventure/fantasy will pull you in all directions as Annie encounters friend and foe, constantly leaving you bewildered as to which is which. From the kinderstalk lurking in the forest, ready to grab children, to the King and his glittering palace, Annie must constantly be watching her back. Well written, and vividly described, Breen creates an unusual, twisted world that is dark, creepy and mysterious,
Reed Reads Score: 4.5