Category Archives: Young Adult

The Maze Runner

6186357James Dashner’s The Maze Runner is the first book in the Maze Runner series.  It is one of those books that has been hanging out on my “to-read” list for a long time.  The movie is currently in theaters and I have heard a lot of good things about it so it prompted me to finally pick this book up and read it.

Thomas doesn’t remember anything prior to waking up in an empty box in the Glade.  He doesn’t remember where he came from or who he is.  The Glade is filled with boys who arrived in the same fashion as Thomas and also do not remember anything.  Thomas must quickly learn to navigate life in the Glade and something about this place seems vaguely familiar to Thomas but he can’t remember why.  And then, everything changes.  The next box to arrive doesn’t contain a boy.  Instead, the Gladers find the first girl to ever be sent to the Glade.  Things quickly change and Thomas soon realizes that he holds the key to the maze and many of the problems at the Glade…if only he could remember his past.

One of my students recently told me that James Dashner was one of his favorite authors.  I have to agree with that student.  Dashner definitely seems to be an author that I am going to enjoy reading more books from.  His writing is smooth and flows well.  He also kept his chapters engaging.  Every chapter ended in a way that made me want to just keep reading,

The Maze Runner is the first book in series and ended accordingly.  Dashner leaves the reader with only partial answers to most of the problems in the book.  I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

This is a book that I think fans of the dystopian genre will really enjoy.  It is also considered a young adult book so it will appeal to younger readers.  Overall, I rated this book four out of five stars.

fourstar

Every Day

every Day

Every Day by David Levithan follows A, a being that inhabits bodies.  Every day A wakes up in a new body and becomes part of someone else’s life.  There is no family, no friends, and no routine for A.  And then, A meets Rhiannon and A’s reality becomes something painful.  A is in love and desperately wants to stay in the same body to be with Rhiannon. But, how can Rhiannon love A if she never knows who A is going to be each day?

I enjoyed this story for the most part.  The concept is interesting and the story moved quickly enough to hold my attention.  However, I did often find myself frustrated with the story.  A is a wonderful protagonist and I was constantly rooting for A but things just never seemed to go the way that I wanted them to.  While that doesn’t make for a bad book, I just had trouble getting really into the book because I was so frustrated at times.

As typical for David Levithan, Every Day is very well-written.  Levithan does an excellent job of including necessary details and tying all the ends of the story together.  I think he also did an excellent job of creating a wide variety of characters for A to inhabit.  Each one was different yet believable.  Levithan managed to represent an entire spectrum of teenagers with different background stories that clearly influenced the lives that A experienced.

Overall, I rated this book three stars.  It is well-written and has a very interesting plot.  The first fifty pages or so were very slow for me but I slowly found myself more involved and interested in the story.  Check it out if you are looking for a quick, interesting read.

threestar

Reconstructing Amelia

reconstructing ameliaWhen fifteen year old Amelia Baron dies after falling from the roof of her prestigious Brooklyn private school, everyone assumes it is a suicide.  Just a few weeks after her death, her mother, Kate, receives an anonymous text message suggesting that Amelia didn’t jump.  It wasn’t a suicide.  This revelation sends grieving, single-mother Kate on a whirlwind journey to reconstruct the last few weeks of Amelia’s life and find out what really happened to her daughter in Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight.

This book had some tough subjects in it, including suicide, bullying, and homosexuality.  However, I really enjoyed this book.  While these are difficult subjects to talk about sometimes, it is reality for many of today’s youth.  As a high school teacher, I see much of this play out in the lives of my students so I think this is a really relate-able book, especially for the young adult age group.  Not only were the characters easy to relate to, the book was also very well written.  The author does a fabulous job of engaging the reader in the story.  It is fast-paced with lots of plot twists throughout the book.  The author also does a great job of tying up all the loose ends in the book as well.  The ending left me feeling satisfied rather than still asking questions.

Overall, I gave this book four stars.  It was a book that kept me interested and gave me a lot to think about.  If you like fast-paced mysteries, check this book out.

fourstar

I Am the Messenger

Ed KennIamthemessengeredy is an underage cab driver who doesn’t have a whole lot going for him.  He is in love with his best friend, Audrey, but she doesn’t seem to feel the same way.  His mother can’t stand him and he lives alone with his coffee-drinking dog, the Doorman.  Everything changes for him when the bank he just happens to be in becomes the site of a robbery.  Ed acts heroically and foils the robbery.  His name is in every paper and the would-be bank robber is not happy.  At the trial, the robber tells Ed to watch out and vows to seek revenge after he completes his jail sentence.  Ed just wants things to go back to normal.  However, some one else has other plans for him.  Shortly after the trial, Ed receives the first ace in the mail.  A simple playing card with a cryptic message.  Ed has been chosen to figure out the message and carry out his new duty.

This novel follows Ed as he discovers each message that he is supposed to deliver.  This story kept me guessing the whole time.  It is far from predictable and I really enjoyed each of the twists and turns.  I also enjoyed the messages that Ed had to carry out.  Essentially he was challenged to care about those in his community which is something the world, as a whole, could use a little more of.  

Markus Zusak is probably most well-known for The Book Thief.  If you have read and enjoyed that, then I would definitely suggest picking up I Am The Messenger.  It felt a bit more fast-paced than The Book Thief but just as well written. One of my eleventh grade students actually recommended this book (and let me borrow it).  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first started reading it.  I hadn’t heard anything about this book but it grabbed my attention quickly and drew me in.  It ended up being one of those books that I couldn’t stop reading and was a little disappointed that it was over when I finished it. Overall, I rated this book with four stars.  

fourstar

Where She Went

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Where She Went is the sequel to Gayle Forman’s If I Stay.  I mentioned in my review of If I Stay, which you can find here, that I felt as though the ending was a bit abrupt and I would like some more information about Mia’s recovery.  I was hoping to get that with this sequel and I did get a little bit of it.  The first book really followed Mia and her plight over whether to stay alive or not.  The sequel is much more focused on her ex-boyfriend, Adam.

Rock star Adam’s band has made it big.  He is touring the country with thousands of girls swooning over him.  He has a famous actress for a girlfriend.  To everyone else, Adam has everything.  He should be happy but instead, he is miserable and heartbroken.  As Mia recovered from the fatal accident that took her entire family, things began to change between Adam and Mia.  Suddenly, Mia stops returning his phone calls and Adam is left without closure.  Where She Went chronicles Adam grieving over the loss of their relationship until one fateful night Mia and Adam run into each other in New York City.  

I enjoyed this book almost as much as the first book.  As a narrator, Adam was not quite as likable Mia for me but I still liked the book.  While the story was fast paced and a pretty easy ready, I was blown away by the emotions that Forman is able to capture with her writing.  She did a wonderful job at articulating what it is like to be heartbroken.  The emotions portrayed in this novel are often raw and heartbreaking. I think that portraying emotions and putting them into words is one of Gayle Forman’s biggest writing strengths.

Overall, I liked this book.  It was a quick read and very easy to relate to the characters. I only wish that there had been more.  I always feel like I want to know more about Adam and Mia’s lives when I finished both the first book as well as this one.  I gave this book four stars. Check it out if you’ve read the first one and need a quick read.

fourstar

 

If I Stay


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Mia is a seventeen year old musician with her whole life ahead of her.  She has just auditioned for a place at Juilliard.  Everything seems to be falling into place for Mia until one February morning when her entire family is killed in a tragic car accident.  Mia is the only survivor.  If I Stay by Gayle Forman follows Mia’s conscience as she makes the decision to either stay alive or pass on with the rest of her family.

I’m a bit late to this bandwagon but with the movie version coming out in mid-August I thought I should go ahead and read this one.  The premise of this story is that we have a choice.  Mia could have chosen to either live or die.  This decision is one that really forces the reader to think and to consider that choice.

Overall, the book is well written and the characters are very relate-able.  The ending to this book is a bit abrupt, however.  It leaves the reader wanting to find out more about the ending and what happens next.  Thankfully, Forman did write a sequel called Where She Went which I hope to read soon.

As I mentioned earlier, this book has been made into a movie and will be released on August 22.  You can find out more about the movie and watch the trailer here.

Overall, I liked this book and gave it four stars.  I think that young adult readers will enjoy this book and I plan to recommend it to my high school students this fall.

fourstar