When you’re surrounded by death, anything can look like a good opportunity.
Death is all around 17-year-old Richie Casey. Diagnosed with cancer, he’s spending his final days in hospice care in upstate New York. He’s weak. He can’t eat. He’s also a wiseass with a biting sense of humor, and he’s persuasive enough to convince even the toughest nurse to let him do what he wants. Seamon’s debut for teens follows Richie over 10 days leading up to his 18th birthday. His ne’er-do-well uncle breaks him out for a wild, cathartic, drunken, lust-filled night on the town in a wheelchair to celebrate Cabbage Night (the night before Halloween). He pursues his girlfriend down the hall, Sylvie, who is also dying from cancer. Each character is vividly drawn, with a sharp, memorable voice that readers will love and remember. While there is plenty of death to go around, the novel’s tone shifts from dark to light when opportunity presents itself to narrator Richie. Both the characters and readers empathize with his urge to break out and experience life despite his constraints and the consequences that might befall him. His ups and downs are what power the plot, and readers come to learn that Ritchie isn’t full of joie de vivre. Instead, he’s full of fight, and that’s what makes him so admirable and memorable. A fresh, inspiring story about death and determination. (Fiction. 14 & up)
A fresh, inspiring story about death and determination(Fiction. 14 & up)
The Time Traveler’s Wife meets Lost in this chilling exploration of love and memory.
A dystopian start to the novel finds journalist Eric on remote Blessed Island in the extreme north in the year 2073. Tasked with gathering information on a rare orchid that is rumored to stop the aging process, he feels instant attraction to native islander Merle. As Eric drinks a strange tea brewed from the orchid, he begins to forget his life on the mainland yet remembers feelings for Merle. But how and when did he know her? Seven linked stories progress backward across centuries, following Eric and Merle’s relationship as it takes on many forms, such as father/daughter or brother/sister, throughout time. Presented as different cycles of the moon, the stories feature various genres, from realistic and war stories to stories about ghosts and Viking vampires, ending with a hint of mystery to be revealed in subsequent chapters. This form, as well as the novel’s reliance on adult protagonists, is a rarity in literature for teens. Inspired by Swedish artist Carl Larsson’s controversial painting, Midvinterblot (translated as midwinter sacrifice), Sedgwick crafts these seven treats with spare, exact prose in which no word is unnecessary. Together, their reoccurring motifs of orchids, moons, blood and language—to name a few—reinforce Eric and Merle’s enduring love.
Haunting, chilling and achingly romantic, Sutton’s debut novel for teens will keep readers up until the wee hours, unable to tear themselves away from this strange and beautifully crafted story.
Elizabeth Caldwell can’t feel emotions, yet she sees them everywhere, human in appearance, standing alongside their “summons.” Guilt and Worry flank the mother of a dying friend. Resentment grips the shoulder of her bruised and battered mother. Elizabeth can see them, acknowledge their power and even speak to them, but ever since the night of a terrible car accident when she was 4, the only sensation Elizabeth is capable of mustering is a numb nothingness. The only emotion that still bothers to come calling is Fear, a menacing and surprisingly seductive suitor who seems as determined as Elizabeth to uncover the truth behind who and what she truly is—no matter what the cost. Elizabeth may not be able to feel, but her novel-long dance with Fear is as sexy and intense as any couple’s in recent memory. This is a testament to Elizabeth’s brilliantly crafted narrative voice. Reminiscent of Death in Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, she shares her story with the cold detachment of the emotionless yet still manages to convey the urgent and desperate nature of her search for the truth.
Chills and goose bumps of the very best kind accompany this haunting, memorable achievement.
(Paranormal romance. 14 & up)
Narrator Em and her boyfriend, Finn, escape from their totalitarian future, time traveling back four years to commit a heart-wrenching assassination of a loved one in order to prevent time travel from being invented and the future from turning so wrong. The future’s hinted-at horrors are threatening but expertly backgrounded, avoiding dystopia-fatigue. The clever, accessible time-space treatment isn’t weighed down by jargon. Em and Finn’s proactive mission means the characters are the hunters instead of the frequently seen on-the-run teen protagonists. The other side of the storyline, taking place in the past that Em and Finn travel to and starring their past selves, is narrated by Marina (Em, in this timeline) and involves her brilliant yet interpersonally challenged best friend (and crush) James and his friend Finn, who annoys Marina, as they deal with a tragedy in James’ family. The believable, complex relationships among the three characters of each respective time and in the blended area of shared time add a surprise: A plot ostensibly about assassination is rooted firmly in different shades of love. Perhaps richest is the affection Em feels for Marina—a standout compared to the truckloads of books about girls who only learn to appreciate themselves through their love interests’ eyes.
Powerful emotional relationships and tight plotting in this debut mark Terrill as an author to watch.
(Science fiction. 12 & up)
In 1716 London, gimlet-eyed Peggy is 16 and orphaned, living off the charity of her beloved cousin’s family. When her grim, unsentimental uncle arranges a marriage of convenience to a brute, Peggy’s adventure begins. In desperation, she accepts the help of Mr. Tinderflint, a mysterious stranger who claims to have known her mother and offers her an outlandish escape. When she finds herself in the court of King George I, having assumed the identity of a maid of honor (now secretly and suspiciously deceased) in the Princess of Wales’ entourage, her own skepticism about the plausibility of the scheme is part of the fun. Ostensibly there to spy for her employer, she quickly learns that all is not as it seems, and she’s left to suss out the motivations of both her friends and enemies while staying one step ahead of them all. In less adept hands, this would be formulaic folderol, but Zettel arms her narrator with a rapier wit; Peggy is observant and winningly funny as she recounts the intrigues, flirtations and dangers she encounters at court. The tale is studded with rich period descriptions of the foods, fashions and foibles of royal protocols.
This witty romp will delight fans of historical fiction as well as mystery lovers. (Mystery/historical fiction. 12 & up)
Eighteen-year-old Judith Finch gradually reveals the horror of her two-year disappearance in a stunning historical murder mystery and romance.
One summer four years ago, Judith Finch and her friend Lottie Pratt disappeared. After two years, only Judith returned. Lottie’s naked body was found in the river, and Judith stumbled back on her own, her appearance shocking the town—not just because she had returned, but that her tongue had been cut out, and she can’t tell anyone what happened to her. Illiterate, maimed, cursed, doomed to be an outsider but always and forever in love with Lucas Whiting, Judith finds a way to tell her story, saying, “I don’t believe in miracles, but if the need is great, a girl might make her own miracle,” and as her story unfolds, all the truth that’s in her is revealed. Set in what seems to be early-18th-century North America, the story is told through the voice inside Judith’s head—simple and poetic, full of hurt and yearning, and almost always directed toward Lucas in a haunting, mute second person. Every now and then, a novel comes along with such an original voice that readers slow down to savor the poetic prose. This is such a story.
A tale of uncommon elegance, power and originality.
(Historical thriller. 12 & up)
After the untimely death of her parents, an artistic girl living with her aunt must face her fears.
Willhemena Huckstep—Will for short—is planning on spending a perfectly quiet summer working at her aunt’s antiques shop, making lamps and spending time with her friends. Two fateful events quickly steer her plans off course: a chance meeting with a group of teens who are putting together an eclectic carnival and a savage summer storm named Whitney that will plunge her town into a prolonged blackout in its wake. Offbeat Will is scared of the dark (her lamp-making skills came from her grandfather, who taught her how to make her first night light). In confronting the darkness, both literal and figurative, though, Will finds herself stronger and happier than she could have imagined. Peppered with pop-culture references from Doctor Who to The Hunger Games and supported by Gulledge’s stylish black-and-white illustrations, this sophomore offering shines as bright as the lamps Will surrounds herself with. Will is an intensely likable character, as are her funky group of friends. With its emphasis on a world wonderfully unplugged, maybe this will jar some readers’ memories about how excellent and exciting a life without Facebook and Twitter can be.
Quirky, clever and insightful; a must-read for fans of Raina Telgemeier
. (Graphic fiction. 12 & up)
Shakespeare’s tragic lovers receive star treatment in this spellbinding graphic-novel production.
Hinds as director, set designer and writer has expertly abridged the original text while embellishing it with modern sensibilities. His edition retains the flavor and poetry of the 1597 play and its memorable and oft-quoted dialogue. It is in the watercolor and digitally illustrated panels that he truly presents a stunning visual reading. Juliet and the Capulets are from India. Romeo and the Montagues are from Africa. Thus, the political rivalries of Verona become contemporary and more meaningful to 21st-century readers. The Capulets are dressed in reds and the Montagues in blue—all against the finely rendered lines of Verona’s buildings and Friar Laurence’s monastery. Beautiful shades of blue infuse the night sky as the two lovers swear their eternal devotion. The panels vary in size to control the pace of the plot. Sword fights pulse with energy and occasional karate thrusts for added drama. The most moving image—a double-page spread without words—is depicted from above in shades of gold and brown stained red with blood as Romeo and Juliet lie dead and immortalized in each other’s arms.
As thrilling and riveting as any staging.
(Graphic drama. 12 & up)
An art project, a rebellion and a sacrifice make up this nuanced, original cyberpunk adventure.
June, 17, remembers the last sacrifice of the Summer King, nine years before. In a future Brazil, after climate change, wars, natural disasters and plague have devastated the world, Palmares Três is a peaceful and just city, technologically supported with holos, nanohooks and bots. Beneath the city's glittering facade, however, there's another reality. Youth is stifled while the governing Aunties keep Palmares Três static in a class-stratified society centuries behind the rest of the developed world. June and best friend Gil, both relatively privileged artists, happily spend their spring dancing, creating public art and voting for the newest Summer King to be sacrificed for the city's prosperity after a year. When gorgeous, dark-skinned Enki is elected, both June and Gil fall for him—but it's Gil he takes as a lover, and June he takes as an artistic collaborator. Their love triangle, in a city with no gender-based limitations on romantic or sexual partnerships, is multifaceted, not the usual heroine-chooses-between-two-boys dynamic. As the trio dances—often literally—around one another, June must negotiate between the extremes of stasis and post-humanism, learn to see beyond herself, discover the meaning of integrity, and maybe even save her rotten-at-the-core and best-beloved city.
Awkward, prickly teens find deep first love in 1980s Omaha.
Eleanor and Park don’t meet cute; they meet vexed on the school bus, trapped into sitting together by a dearth of seats and their low social status. Park, the only half-Korean fan of punk and New Wave at their high school, is by no means popular, but he benefits from his family’s deep roots in their lower-middle-class neighborhood. Meanwhile, Eleanor’s wildly curly red mane and plus-sized frame would make her stand out even if she weren’t a new student, having just returned to her family after a year of couch-surfing following being thrown out by her odious drunkard of a stepfather, Richie. Although both teens want only to fade into the background, both stand out physically and sartorially, arming themselves with band T-shirts (Park) and menswear from thrift stores (Eleanor). Despite Eleanor’s resolve not to grow attached to anything, and despite their shared hatred for clichés, they fall, by degrees, in love. Through Eleanor and Park’s alternating voices, readers glimpse the swoon-inducing, often hilarious aspects of first love, as well as the contrast between Eleanor’s survival of grim, abuse-plagued poverty and Park’s own imperfect but loving family life.
Funny, hopeful, foulmouthed, sexy and tear-jerking, this winning romance will captivate teen and adult readers alike.
(Fiction. 14 & up)