Tag Archives: Young Adult

The Hunted: the Enemy is Closer that you Think

The Hunted by Charlie Higson, penultimate in The Enemy Series #6

“The sickness struck people sixteen and older. First it twisted their minds; next it ravaged their bodies. Now the sickos roam the streets, crazed and hungry for young flesh…”

The Hunted (B&N Exclusive Edition) (The Enemy Series #6)

This is hugely graphic story with blood and gore thickly spread.  From a writer who feels young people should experience fear to be prepared for later life, he is, to phrase it tamely, obliging.  It’s okay, if you have a stomach for zombies and intense horror. This series has a huge following of fans. Charlie Higson can tell a story for sure, interweaving stories and creating complex believable characters, but if you dream about what you read, try Higson’s Young Bond series instead.

neversaid

Product Details

By Carol Lynch Williams

256 pages; 2015

“Getting what you wish for, hope for, want, always comes with a price, doesn’t it?”

This was a good book all round, but hard reading in the sense of raw and very sad. It is the story of two sisters: Annie, who is beautiful and accomplished, and Sarah, who is totally withdrawn and doesn’t measure up. It is also the story of a bad secret. There is a dramatic turn of events when Annie checks out, quits the beauty pageant path, and starts gaining weight. No-one in the family seems to get it together, and things spiral downwards.
However, the story ends well, and I’d recommend this for upper school students. It’s beautifully told.

Uprooted

Uprooted

Uprooted by Naomi Novak

449 pages, Del Rey (May 19, 2015)

 

This was a fantastic fantasy novel that appeals to the romantic and the high fantasy sides of my reading preference. This reads a little like a Tannith Lee fantasy, and a bit like When Darkness Falls, though considerably less dark and long. This story is about a girl and a dragon, but not the “I’m going to eat you up” sort. No this novel states from the very beginning, the dragon comes once every ten years to take a girl from our village, but not to eat her. It is a beauty and the beast meets into the woods story filled with corrupted trees and misshapen creatures. (Hello Butcher’ Codex Allara).

The story is wonderfully told with depth and descriptions that transport you into this world. In a world where magic is real, politics favors no one, and the phrase “lost in the Wood” means a funeral. It is a stand alone novel for which I can only say a huge thank you. It is predictable in the same way a fairy tale is predictable, but not in an unpleasant way. I enjoyed this story, and it is engaging but not exhausting to read, so I believe this one will go on my recommended list at our library.

Parental Note: This is appropriate for older teens and up and though there is a brief sex scene (romance folks, apparently we can’t have a novel without it these days) it was not especially graphic. I did get a little squirmy at the age difference, our heroine is a teenager, the Dragon is well over a hundred, but since this book is set in a time where teenagers get married and have children before all before eighteen, it gets a pass.

Shadowscale

Shadow Scale
By Rachel Hartman
608 pgs, Hardback
Random House Publishing, (March 10, 2015)
Ages 12+

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I was privileged to get this as an early release from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Now I had passed on Seraphina, the first in this series because honestly I love dragon fantasy books, but a teen book 400 pages long called “epic fantasy”. Hmmmm, Well, Seraphina is epic (for teen) and after reading the few chapter synopsis I agreed to read and review Shadow Scale. I even bought the first book and read it through. Good world building, interesting concepts (not new, but well applied) and while the whole dragons as Vulcans (extracting all emotions, hyper logical, use advanced tech) while the humans were too emotional and stuck in the Middle Ages (pencils as hellish) sort of gave me pause, it was still a fun story. And Seraphina was a fun protagonist to follow.

Let me start with the good. Shadow Scale is a detailed and well written second (and final) book about Seraphina a half dragon music prodigy and her mission to defend her people. Teens will love the clean politics, the rebellious teen dragons, and the evil villain. The fighting is described, but not too bloody. And there is so much description, that the reader might find themselves creating a mind pearl to contain it all. This is a good transition book into the wider world of adult fantasy novels. I can think of many series to recommend if a teen likes this book.

Now why the somewhat mixed review. The length of this book made it hard to get through for a teen fantasy. A 608 page hardback? I found myself skimming whole exposition chapters as irrelevant to the larger story and actually yelled at my e-reader “get on with it” at one point. And since when did Epic mean long winded? Tightly written tense novels that span continents are not necessarily 600 pages. And the ending was eye rolling. I believe that teen readers should get stories where the good guy does not always get a tidy solution. Life is messy, let’s see how a strong character deals with that. Tidy is for junior fiction. Epic means that there is tragedy, loss, and redemption. There was a great deal of frustration, and good mastermind politicking, but the end… Not a big fan of “Hand of God” solutions. A four star for a teen book, three star for adults reading it for themselves.

Conclusions? If you loved the first book, you will love the second. Will I recommend this series for our library? This is a hard one. I don’t know how many of my teen readers would get through all of book two. I can recommend book one, but will wait to see how many requests for book two we get before recommending purchasing Shadow Scale.

Parental notes. Again not much. There is some lusting and kissing, and dispassionate descriptions of a torturous childhood of a main character, but it all is pretty bloodless. Even the killings seem almost clinical and devoid of the horror I would expect in a battle. Twelve might be a bit young for the length and scope of the story. I don’t mean a twelve year old can not read and understand the story, it is just so long that threads may get lost if your child is not a fast reader. And there are a lot of characters with multiple aliases to keep track of. I would have liked a character cheat sheet and a map, but since my copy is an ARC those might be included in the final release, no points off.