Ms. Barrows’ Highlights
Yancey masterfully weaves together classic elements of sci-fi, dystopia, and adventure fiction in The 5th Wave. The world of Yancey’s creation undergoes five “waves” of destruction orchestrated by an alien species, and each installment leaves his world and its main characters more destroyed and fragmented than before. The characters – Cassie, Sam, Ben and Evan – lead adult-less lives (an often employed tactic of YA literature) and are therefore forced to struggle and survive amidst the devastating and seemingly irreversible five “waves” of annihilation. There’s nothing technically “new” in Yancey’s story, but the masterful layering of elements creates a rich, fulfilling read. Bonus points to Yancey for making the leading female character 12 and therefore that much more likeable.
The day before her parents die in a car accident, Cameron Post is kissing her best friend Irene. In the fallout, Cameron finds herself cultivating a shoplifting habit and barely surviving the guardianship of her ultra-conservative religious Aunt Ruth. As Cameron struggles to hide something she has barely discovered, she cannot help but seek information and experience. When Cameron befriends Coley, the heterosexual picture-perfect cowgirl, it becomes a matter of time before Cameron’s sexuality is discovered. A tribute to Montana and the early 1990s, The Miseducation of Cameron Post transcends coming-out tropes and YA stereotypes.
A sleeper hit of 2014, The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy follows Ethan and his three best friends as they react to the takeover of Selwyn by a reality TV show designed to exploit the talent of the art academy’s students. As the title suggests, the protest takes the form of poetry – specifically, guerrilla poetry inspired by Ezra Pound’s Cantos. However, Ethan and his friends soon understand the depth and detail masterminded by the creators of the reality TV show.
Mr. Gette’s Highlights
Graceling –Kristin Cashore
People who are Graced have a special talent; dancing, painting, or – in Katsa’s case – killing. Forced to be a thug for a tyrannical king, Katsa figures out a way to make her life – and her world – better, by setting up a secret resistance. The sequel, Bitterblue, delves into espionage. Both are a lot of fun.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl -Jesse Andrews
I’m going to be straight with you: this is a book about cancer. It is also very, very funny. If those two facts seem irreconcilable to you, trust me – Andrews manages to pull it off. When Greg’s mother insists that he rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel (who has leukemia), the socially-awkward Greg’s best idea is to show her the terrible movies he makes with his friend Earl. Don’t dismiss this as a John Green rip-off – this is a very different book that stands on its own. The film is coming out in July, and got great reviews at Sundance. Read the book first!
Seraphina –Rachel Hartman
In the kingdom of Goredd, an uneasy peace exists between humans and dragons. It’s the 40th anniversary of the peace treaty, the dragon ambassadors are coming to the human capital, and a member of the royal family has just been murdered in a very dragon-like way. In the middle is Seraphina, assistant court musician – and secret half dragon. She teams up with the brave, smart, and (unfortunately) engaged Prince Lucian to figure out whodunnit. The much-awaited sequel comes out tomorrow (March 10)!